Conference: The Quest for Personalised Health

A conference exploring the emerging interface between Chinese medicine and modern system sciences

Friday 10 June & Saturday 11 June 2011
EASTmedicine Research Centre, University of Westminster , 115 New Cavendish Street, London, UK, W1W 6UW

Personalised medicine – the delivery of health care solutions targeted to the exact biological state of an individual at a given moment in time – is seen by many researchers as one of the great challenges for 21st century medicine. The development of such personalised health care solutions is closely tied, in turn, to the emergence of new disciplines such as systems biology, attempts to describe and model the integrated action of regulatory networks at many levels of biological organization from the subcellular through cell, tissue and organ right up to the whole organism.

Viewed from a wider historical perspective the goal of a personalised approach to medical care is not entirely new and certainly not modern. Physicians in China and East Asia, for instance, have pursued similar visions for two millennia. Their quest was informed by very different concepts, however, such as, for instance qi, the stuff in which and through which everything happens; the resonances (ying) between the human microcosm and the natural world; coherence (li), as the organising principle of the world and of moral human agency within it; the intending understanding (yi) that was, by definition, beyond words but that ensured the effectiveness of medical practice; and the changes and transformations (bian hua) that constituted the natural state of the world and the target of all medical practice.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, 21st century systems science and traditional East Asian medicines have begun to discover and even embrace each other. Our conference & workshop is an attempt to examine this emergent interface from an interdisciplinary perspective. To this end we will bring together researchers and scholars from the biosciences, East Asian studies, medical history, anthropology, philosophy and science studies in a collegiate atmosphere geared towards enabling mutual learning, reflection and debate. We suggest to focus this exchange on three broadly conceived topics:

Ontology/Cosmology: What are the problems to which systems biology promises to deliver answers? What conceptions of life and the world underpin the framing of research questions and why have they become important? How do these relate to and differ from those explored by physicians working within the Asian medical traditions.

Epistemes and Epistemic Virtues: What institutions, infrastructures, networks, moral visions and labour underpin the quest for personalised medicine at different places and times.

Medical Practice: How do the tensions between medicine as techne and practice play out in the visions of personalised medicine that inform practitioners in both biomedicine and physicians working within the East Asian medical traditions.

Friday 10 June, 2011: Keynote Lectures

The music of life: a window between West and East? (Denis Noble, Prof. emeritus, Oxford University)

Efficacy and Evidence (Nathan Sivin, Prof. emeritus, University of Pennsylvania)

A Biology Built Out of Verbs? Systems Biology and Health (Dr. Jane Calvert, University of Edinburgh)

On the Notion of Qi 氣 In Ancient Chinese Philosophy (Dr. Hans-Georg Moeller, University of Cork)

Saturday 11 June, 2011: Speakers

Prof. Bridie Andrews, Department of History, Bentley University; Dr. Jane Calvert, RCUK Academic Fellow, University of Edinburgh; Prof. TJ Hinrichs, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University; Dr. Hugh MacPherson, Department of `Health Sciences, University of York; Dr. Hans-Georg Moeller, Department of Philosophy , University College Cork; Prof. Denis Noble, CBE FRS FRCP, Oxford University (emeritus); Prof. Andrew Pickering, Sociology, University of Exeter & Kyung Hee University, Seoul; Dr. Volker Scheid, EASTmedicine Research Centre, University of Westminster; Dr. Jan Schroer, Sino-Dutch Centre for Personalised Medicine, University of Leiden; Prof. Nathan Sivin, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania (emeritus); Dr. phil. Lena Springer, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Vienna; Prof. Jan van der Greef, Director Sino-Dutch Centre for Personalised Medicine, University of Leiden; Dr. Roel van Wijk, Sino-Dutch Centre for Personalised Medicine, University of Leiden; Prof. Claudia Witt MD MBA, Director Complementary Medicine Research Centre, Humboldt-University, Berlin; Prof. Yi-Li Wu, Department of History, Albion College

Register for this conference here.

Costs: £25 per day / students £15 per day

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