Pescarmona: University and Cyberspace 29 june 2010
University and Cyberspace 28-30 giugno 2010

Author: Gianpiero Pescarmona
Date: 22/06/2010


Aim of my project is to teach students to afford the complexity of medical information on the net starting from the point of view of Clinical Biochemistry

The knowledge in Medicine has many bias

Many Actors with different targets

  • Big Pharma (Profit)
  • National Health Services (Cost Effective Actions)
  • Private Practitioners (Profit)
  • Funding Agencies
  • Universities (knowledge or patents and spin-off?)
  • The Physicians (Patient or disease care?)
  • The Patient (Personalized Care)


The standard approach to the disease

the primary aim is to identify the disease

and afterword to supply to proper drug or treatment


  • Simple
  • Reproducible (the doctor behavior, not the patient behavior))
  • Testable (the 70% of the patients improves; the others?)
  • No personal responsability of the physician (Defensive Medicine)


  • what to do with non-responder?
  • what about drugs induced diseases (> 40%)?
  • how to manage multiple disease in one patient?

Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) is the up to date form of this approach


An alternative approach based on the search for the molecular mechanism of symptoms

I have a symptom:

  • Why?
    • Why me?
      • Why now?

To answer these questions we need a different type of knowledge structured according to specific rules


An objective definition of disease

The disease as inadequacy of the living organism to afford the environmental stresses (inhability to adapt)

  • Endogenous causes:
    • genetic
    • ageing
  • Exogenous causes:
    • nutritional
    • pregnancy
    • infections
    • working
    • atmospheric changes
    • drugs


Diseases affect only living organism, therefore we have to define them to properly understand diseases.


The living organism

DISSIPATIVE (life takes place only in environments with excess energy: in our case in the sunlight)

EVOLUTIONARY (formation of evolutionary trees for any molecule, organism mediated by irreversible bifurcations followed by selection. The driving forces of bifurcation and selection depend on the environment and can be considered “local”)

CYCLIC (at any level from the molecules to the species specific feedback mechanisms can be identified that regulate the relative number of the objects involved in the equilibria)

OSCILLATING (in any self-regulatory cyclic system the number of any item is changing with time with a periodicity which depends on the size of the system – from seconds for chemical reactions to years for prey/predator
relationship – and the time the feedback signals need to diffuse across the system)

COMPETITIVE (as biological system tend to expand exponentially in a finite environment they – earlier or later – became limited in their growth by scarcity of some essential factor (“nutrient”) and the competition for the limiting nutrient will locally drive the selection).

Il Flipper e la Nuvola ( The Pinball Machine and the Cloud )

It is a Web application based on the Web 2.0 logic, which implies also a different attitude towards scholarly communication. It is structured in

  • Reports
    • The reality is represented by Reports, descriptions of clinical cases whose fate can be changed by a correct interpretation of symptoms, allowing a validation of the method. Each user edits with a simplified Wiki writing language its own Report and links it with the fitting involved Item or Pathway, and then can tag it or associate it to a MeSH term. That creates a tag cloud which allows unprecedented links and a critical reuse of the content. Comments are always possible.
  • Rules
  • Items
    • The Items and the Pathways mark out the framework of this innovative channel of communication, and the user generated content – dealing with diseases, drugs, proteins, metabolic paths and so on – consists of texts, images, links to scientific literature, links to biomedical websites, in a creative and critical approach as learned during classes. The use of tags and/or controlled PubMed MeSH terms to categorize allows and fosters a free and personal use of information to create original knowledge. Tag clouds also apply to the most linked and handled Web sites, generating a sort of shared validation.
  • Pathways
  • Tools
    • The information, or better, an interpreted gateway to the information is collected in Tools, Items and Pathways, where the link to the contents is categorized with an indexing visually very similar to classical textbooks, but structurally based on a relational database and easily modifiable if needed. The Database is also searchable with the Google search engine allowing a search by argument independently from the type of indexing. Indexing itself carries a lot of information as different branches of learning usually aggregate differently the same set of contents.

From the Patient to the Web multiple sources of information

Hair Loss




From the beginning to now

Degree in Medicine cum laude in 1967

L'imagination au pouvoir (1968)

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