Quantifying your body: A how-to guide from a systems biology perspective



During the coming decade we will see an accelerated digital transformation of healthcare. Leading this change within the institutional medical community are both the move to digital medical records and the use of digital biomedical measurement devices. In addition to this institutional evolution, there is a non-institutional, bottom-up, unorganized, highly idiosyncratic movement by early adopters to “quantify” their own bodies. In this article, I share my decade-long personal experience of tracking many blood and stool biomarkers, which provide insight into the health or disease of major subsystems of my body. These results are interpreted in the context of the genetics of my human DNA and that of the microbes in my gut. Even though I am a computer scientist and not a medical professional, by using commercially available tests and a systems biology integrative approach, I have become an early example of Leroy Hood's vision of the emergence of predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory (P4) medicine. It is an individual's story illustrating how each of us can contribute to realizing this paradigm shift.