Keywords

hierarchy of life, linkage, human health, environmental models, opportunity

Start Date

1-7-2010 12:00 AM

Description

The hierarchy of levels in the organization of matter, or the “hierarchy of life”, is a fundamentalconcept in biology, and biologists are used to thinking about their work asbeing at a particular level. Yet medicine, in both research and application, operatessomewhat independently of this concept, working almost exclusively at levels at or belowthe individual. Through the relatively-recent expansion of epidemiology, medicinedoes reach up to the level of the population - but medicine at higher levels of biologicalorganization remains under-developed. In this paper we review the biological idea ofhierarchy of life and explore what medical research and practice might look like at thehigher levels. The range of therapies might be broad, including such as controlling releaseof toxic chemicals and various types of planning. Practitioners may also be broadat the higher levels. In terms of research, we believe that ecology will be notably important.Hence the environment, and our concern here with environmental modelling, isimportant to medicine operating at all levels of the hierarchy of life. Key concepts fromconference papers - socio-ecological and socio-environmental systems; modelling watersupply; modelling forest fires and the northern environment; energy, material and waterflows; air quality; and climate change - are obviously linked to human health. Whereenvironmental models have significant health implications, the constituency of interestin the findings can be huge. The time seems right to make such contributions.

Share

COinS
 
Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Modelling Human Health by Levels of Biological Organization

The hierarchy of levels in the organization of matter, or the “hierarchy of life”, is a fundamentalconcept in biology, and biologists are used to thinking about their work asbeing at a particular level. Yet medicine, in both research and application, operatessomewhat independently of this concept, working almost exclusively at levels at or belowthe individual. Through the relatively-recent expansion of epidemiology, medicinedoes reach up to the level of the population - but medicine at higher levels of biologicalorganization remains under-developed. In this paper we review the biological idea ofhierarchy of life and explore what medical research and practice might look like at thehigher levels. The range of therapies might be broad, including such as controlling releaseof toxic chemicals and various types of planning. Practitioners may also be broadat the higher levels. In terms of research, we believe that ecology will be notably important.Hence the environment, and our concern here with environmental modelling, isimportant to medicine operating at all levels of the hierarchy of life. Key concepts fromconference papers - socio-ecological and socio-environmental systems; modelling watersupply; modelling forest fires and the northern environment; energy, material and waterflows; air quality; and climate change - are obviously linked to human health. Whereenvironmental models have significant health implications, the constituency of interestin the findings can be huge. The time seems right to make such contributions.