A new Johns Hopkins Medicine institute will focus on the use of computers and information technology to identify diseases in their earliest stages and improve treatment.
"Our mission is to develop a new field that we call computational medicine," said Raimond Winslow, director of the new Institute for Computational Medicine. Researchers will use advanced computational methods to analyze and model disease mechanisms "to understand, quantitatively, how diseases progress. We want to be able to predict who is at risk of developing a disease and how to treat it more effectively," Winslow said.
Research focuses at the institute will include biological systems modeling, computational anatomy and bioinformatics.
Biological systems modeling involves the use of computer models to unravel the molecular basis of human disease. Such models allow researchers to better guide laboratory experimentation by first conducting and testing experiments and therapies mathematically.
Computational anatomy allows researchers to analyze the structure of healthy and diseased segments of the body, comparing, for example, the brains of patients with and without Alzheimer's disease.
Bioinformatics is the management of biomedical data, which can be mined for risk factors, such as diet and smoking, among other important pieces of information.
At first about 20 faculty members will be affiliated with the institute, with six more added over the next several years. Several sources have provided initial funding of more than $8 million for the first five years, Hopkins said.