Farewell lecture Hans V. Westerhoff



Aula, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Trumping the Trumps: Adressing complexities through BioLogical rationality

Prof. Dr. Hans V. Westerhoff

Amsterdam Institute for Molecules, Medicines and Systems


Farewell lecture

The Amsterdam Institute for Molecules, Medicines, and Systems aimms at designing molecules that can help us cure the human body when it is diseased. The task is much more onerous than assumed fifty years ago: The human body is a highly complex system with more than 25 thousand degrees of freedom interacting nonlinearly. Through the worldwide application of systems biology we now understand why the traditional one-disease, one-target, one-drug, one-cure strategies have only limited effectiveness for the human population at large. The new life science has also produced methodologies that deal with systems of this incredible complexity in ways that are subtle, tailor-made, multi-pronged, adaptive, longitudinal and effective. The new approach is orthogonal to the block-buster strategy characteristic not only of classical pharmacology, but also of present-day populist politics.

The symposium (held in the O|2 auditorium of the VU Amsterdam, with a closing lecture in the VU aula) will examine whether complex issues such as the human body, human society, politics and Global health, can be settled by populist tweets, and whether the understanding and methodologies developed in the complex life sciences may help address those issues much more effectively. This may be the time for life scientists to descend from their white tower and help implement their findings in the complex systems of society.