Network Physiology: from complex dynamics of individual systems to networks of organ interactions and the Human Physiolome
This event is part of the Physics Department Colloquia Series.
The human organism is an integrated network where complex physiological systems, each with its own regulatory mechanisms, continuously interact to optimize and coordinate their function. Organ-to-organ interactions occur at multiple levels and spatiotemporal scales to produce distinct physiologic states: wake and sleep; light and deep sleep; consciousness and unconsciousness. Disrupting organ communications can lead to dysfunction of individual systems or to collapse of the entire organism (coma, multiple organ failure). Yet, we know almost nothing about the nature of the interactions between diverse organ systems and their collective role in maintaining health. Through the prism of concepts and approaches originating in statistical and computational physics and nonlinear dynamics, we will present basic characteristics of individual organ systems, distinct forms of pairwise coupling between systems, and a new framework to identify and quantify networks of interactions among diverse organ systems. We will demonstrate how physiologic network topology and systems connectivity lead to integrated global behaviors representative of physiologic states and functions. We will discuss implications for further theoretical developments and practical applications within the context of the emerging field of Network Physiology, where physicists have a key role in uncovering basic principles and mechanisms. The presented investigations are initial steps in building a first atlas of dynamic interactions among organ systems and the Human Physiolome.