HPSM Lecture: Dennis Barbour (WashU Biomedical Engineering) – “An Emerging Paradigm for Generalizing Medical Inference Beyond Definitive Diagnoses”

December 5, 2018
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Wilson Hall 104 (Danforth Campus)

“An Emerging Paradigm for Generalizing Medical Inference Beyond Definitive Diagnoses”

Abstract: The primary goal of medicine is to optimize treatment outcomes for each patient. By far the dominant methodology for achieving this goal has been to establish etiologic understanding of disease processes in previous patients, designate nosologic groups based on those findings, and use symptoms/signs/test results from each new patient to assign him or her to the proper group. Treatment decisions are then based on the group assignment. This approach fails for edge cases in which proper group assignment cannot readily be made for a patient. Given that the trajectory of precision medicine is to eventually convert all patients into such edge cases, progress in medical inference will ultimately stall even in the face of enormous medical databases. My research group has developed an alternate paradigm for medical inference not contingent solely on nosologic classification but rather on predictive models of individual patients. I will illustrate these principles with psychophysical tests of hearing and vision. My current goal is to find a philosophical language in which to express how my model works and how I can most efficiently communicate it to a broader intellectual community.

This seminar is hosted by History and Philosophy of Science & Medicine (HPSM).

For inquiries contact Susan McKinney.