Some examples of research themes of interest are: patient safety, community and infrastructure resilience to disasters, childhood obesity, hospital services, and systems approaches to auto-immune diseases. To produce significant advances in these research areas, a broad range of disciplines have been brought together, using methods from systems engineering and science to provide the framework and underlying analytical techniques for collaboration. For instance, improvements in patient safety require an integration of medicine with:

  • computer science and statistics to effectively use the information embedded in electronic health records;
  • industrial engineering and applied mathematics to optimize the interactions between human workers and medical devices; and
  • social science to redesign the clinical work culture.

There is also an important translational component in the Institute activities, in which research developments for one system are applied to another. For example, machine learning, statistical inference, and optimization approaches, used to identify critical symptoms in patients and design the corresponding medical interventions, would also be applicable to analysis of community response to disasters, where infrastructure and personnel needs are determined and addressed.

The relationships between the research, education, and practice components of the Center for Systems Science and Engineering are similar to those that have been successfully developed in medicine. For instance, activities in systems practice, such as the application of informatics to clinical data streams, provide a valuable educational experience for Institute graduate students, and at the same time, lead experts to identify relevant research needs.

Center for Systems Science and Engineering