CISE Seminar: September 14, 2018, Plamen Ch. Ivanov – Boston University

8 St. Mary’s Street, PHO 211
3:00pm-4:00pm – Refreshments at 2:45pm


Plamen Ch. Ivanov
Boston University

The New Field of Network Physiology: Mapping the Human Physiolome 

The human organism is an integrated network where complex physiological systems, each with its own regulatory mechanism, 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 interactions among diverse organ systems and sub-systems, and their collective role as a network in maintaining health.

The emerging new field of Network Physiology aims to address these fundamental questions. In addition to defining health and disease through structural, dynamical and regulatory changes in individual systems, the network physiology approach focuses on the coordination and interactions among diverse organ systems as a hallmark of physiologic state and function. 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 dynamic networks of organ interactions. We will demonstrate how physiologic network topology and systems connectivity lead to integrated global behaviors representative of distinct states and functions.

We will also show that universal laws govern physiological networks at different levels of integration in the human body (brain-brain, brain-organ and organ-organ), and that transitions across physiological states are associated with specific modules of hierarchical network reorganization. We will outline implications for new theoretical developments, basic physiology and clinical medicine, novel platforms of integrated biomedical devices, robotics and cyborg technology. The presented investigations are initial steps in building a first Atlas of dynamic interactions among organ systems and the Human Physiolome, a new kind of BigData of blue-print reference maps that uniquely represent physiologic states and functions under health and disease.

Professor Plamen Ch. Ivanov, PhD, DSc, is Director of the Keck Laboratory for Network Physiology at Boston University, Associate Physiologist at the Division of Sleep Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Lecturer in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has pioneered statistical physics, nonlinear dynamics, computational and data science approaches to investigate the complex dynamics and regulatory mechanisms of physiological systems, including the cardiac and respiratory systems, sleep-stage transitions, circadian rhythms, locomotion and brain dynamics, and has uncovered basic laws of physiologic regulation.

Prof. Ivanov is the originator and founder of a new interdisciplinary field, Network Physiology. His current research focuses on developing methods of analysis and a theoretical framework to address the fundamental question of how diverse organ systems and sub-systems in the human body interact as a network, coordinate and integrate their functions to generate different physiological states and to produce health or disease.

His scientific discoveries are broadly featured in the media, including Scientific American, Science News, Nature Science Update, Nature Medicine: Research Highlights, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Physics World. He has served on the Editorial and Advisory Boards of scientific journals, including New Journal of Physics, Europhysics Letters, EPJ Nonlinear Biomedical Physics, Journal of Biological Physics, Frontiers in Fractal Physiology, Physiological Measurement, and on the review panels of national and international funding agencies. He is one of the nine founding members of PhysioNet, the first physiological data-sharing research resource.

For his seminal contributions Prof. Ivanov was elected Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2010. He is recipient of the Sustained Research Excellence Award of the Biomedical Research Institute at Harvard Medical School 2009,  the Georgi Nadjakov Medal of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences 2012, and the Pythagoras Prize for scientific achievements 2014. In 2015 Prof. Ivanov received a $1M  Keck Foundation Award to develop the first dynamic atlas  representing organ network interactions, and to lay the foundations of the  Human Physiolome.

Faculty Host: Yannis Paschalidis
Student Host:
Nan Zhou