Complexity and healthcare have always gone hand-in-hand, but for today’s medical and health professionals, ensuring that patients receive optimal care is only getting more challenging.

Whether you’re diagnosing symptoms, predicting -- and preventing -- the spread of disease, or building vital healthcare infrastructure, understanding complex systems has never been more important.

This accessible (no math or science background required), three-day course is designed to give healthcare professionals, faculty, policy-makers and students an intensive introduction to complex systems as they apply to health and medicine. Through lectures, exercises and interactive discussions with prominent SFI faculty and your peers, you’ll learn how complexity science is being used to predict, model and transform medical systems across many disciplines.

Topics covered include:
Healthcare as a complex system
Complexity in medicine and disease
Machine learning and computationally-aided diagnostics

From tracking the next pandemic to exploring the hidden influence of social networks on public health and using health data to improve patient care, participants will learn to apply complexity thinking to better understand and address their toughest challenges.

Learning Objectives After participating in this activity, the participant will demonstrate the ability to:

1. Better understanding of how to use big data effectively and responsibly in healthcare.
2. To better understand the healthcare environment and complex systems as they apply to health and medicine.
3. To network and make meaningful connections with a diverse group of participants that are outside of one’s normal field.
4.Gaining a basic knowledge of how information theory applies to heart surgery and how to model the heart of a communication system.
5. Acquiring an understanding of the micro-biome and the interplay between evolutionary processes and the organization of biological, ecological, and social systems.
6. Learn how agent based modeling can be applied to the healthcare system.
7. Gain a basic knowledge of complex systems approached to obesity.
8. Develop a basic understanding on how machine learning is currently being used in healthcare.

CME Accreditation Statement: 
This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the New Mexico Medical Society (NMMS) through the joint providership of CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center (CSVRMC) and Santa Fe Institute. CSVRMC is accredited by the NMMS to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

CSVRMC designates this live activity for a maximum of 15 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.


Ben Althouse, Tracking and Curbing the Next Pandemic, Research Scientist, Institute of Disease Modeling; Former SFI Omidyar Fellow.

John Arden, Panel,  John joined Kaiser Permanente in 1990 after working within the community mental health system for the prior 15 years. During that period, he worked with Native Americans and Latinos in the Southwest, and African-Americans and Asians in San Francisco. While in the Southwest, he wrote a bill for a state legislature in 1980 to provide deinstitutionalized treatment within the mental health system. He is the author of 14 books, mostly in the areas of neuroscience, psychoneuroimmunology, and evidence-based practices.

Hiroshi Ashikaga, Information Theory of the Heart, Dr. Ashikaga received an M.D. and a Ph.D. degrees from the University of Tokyo, Japan. He completed his clinical training in Internal Medicine at the University of Tokyo and Beth Israel Medical Center, where he served as a Chief Resident. He received his research training in Biomedical Engineering and Cardiovascular MRI at the University of California, San Diego and the National Institutes of Health. He also completed clinical training in Cardiology and Cardiac Electrophysiology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Timothy G. Buchman, Panel, External Professor, Ph.D., M.D.; Founding Director, Emory Center for Critical Care, and Professor of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Surgery, and Emory Center for Critical Care

Christine K. Cassel, Panel, MD, President and former CEO of the National Quality Forum, is a leading expert in geriatric medicine, medical ethics and quality of care. Cassel has just joined the leadership team designing the new Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine in Southern California

Joshua Epstein, Modeling Health - Santa Fe Institute External Faculty; Professor of Emergency Medicine; Joint appointments: Departments of Economics, Biostatistics, and Environmental Health at Johns Hopkins University; Director, Center for Advanced Modeling in the Social, Behavioral and Health Sciences (CAM) at Johns Hopkins.

Joe Flower, With over 30 years’ experience, Joe Flower has emerged as a premier observer and thought leader on the deep forces changing healthcare in the United States and around the world. As a healthcare speaker, writer, and consultant, he has explored the future of healthcare nationally and internationally, with clients ranging from the World Health Organization, the Global Business Network, and the U.K. National Health Service, to the majority of state hospital associations in the U.S. as well as many of the provincial associations and ministries in Canada, and an extraordinary variety of other players across healthcare – professional associations, pharmaceutical companies, device manufacturers, health plans, physician groups, and numerous hospitals.

Mirta Galesic, Risk communication and health-related behaviors - Santa Fe Institute Resident Faculty, Galesic is Professor and Cowan Chair in Human Social Dynamics at the Santa Fe Institute, and Adjunct Researcher at the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany. She studies how simple cognitive mechanisms interact with properties of the external environment to produce seemingly complex social phenomena.

Ross Hammond, Obesity and a complex systems approach to solutions - Santa Fe Institute External Faculty. Ross A. Hammond is a Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, where he is also Director of the Center on Social Dynamics and Policy. His primary area of expertise is modeling complex dynamics in economic, social, and public health systems using methods from complexity science. His current research topics include obesity etiology and prevention, food systems, tobacco control, behavioral epidemiology, health disparities, childhood literacy, crime, corruption, segregation, and decision-making. Hammond received his B.A. from Williams College and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He has authored numerous scientific articles in prominent journals such as Lancet, JAMA Pediatrics, American Journal of Public Health, PNAS, Evolution, and Journal of Conflict Resolution, and his work has been featured in The Atlantic Monthly, New Scientist, Salon, Scientific American, and major news media.

Pilar Ossorio, Machine Learning in Medicine, Dr. Ossorio is Professor of Law and Bioethics where she is on the faculties of the Law School and the Department of Medical History and Bioethics at the Medical School. In 2011 she became the inaugural Ethics Scholar-in-Residence at the Morgridge Institute for Research, the private, nonprofit research institute that is part of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery. She also serves as the co-director of UW's Law and Neuroscience Program, as a faculty member in the UW Masters in Biotechnology Studies program, and as Program Faculty in the Graduate Program in Population Health. Prior to taking her position at UW, she was Director of the Genetics Section of the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association, and taught as adjunct faculty at the University of Chicago Law School.

Dario Robleto, History of the Heartbeat , Robleto uses unexpected materials such as melted vinyl records, dinosaur bones, meteorites, glass produced by atomic explosions, lost heartbeat recordings from the 19th century, and he transforms these artifacts from the vast inventory of humanity’s collective past into delicately layered objects that are sincere and personal meditations on love, death, eroding memory, and healing. A self-described “materialist poet,” Robleto emphasizes the relationship between language and materials as a crucial component to his approach. Increasingly, Robleto has been participating in activities outside the art world. In 2015 he was appointed Artist in Residence in Neuroaesthetics at the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering, and he was invited to co-organize the 2016 International Conference on Mobile Brain-Body Imaging and the Neuroscience of Art, Innovation, and Creativity, scheduled to take place in July 2016. In 2015 Robleto and Contreras-Vidal coauthored a scholarly paper titled "Your Brain on Art: Emergent Cortical Dynamics During Aesthetic Experiences”. The study considered “the brain response to conceptual art [as] studied with mobile electroencephalography (EEG) to examine the neural basis of aesthetic experiences.”


The SFI short course aims to provide an intimate experience, enrollment is very limited and is first come first serve.

Program Tuition:

General Admission: $2,500

Non-profit/Government/Educators: $2,000

Students and SFI Alumni: $1,500

ACtioN Members can contact their Complexity Liaison at to receive their discount.

***Registration cancellations made before July 1, 2016 will be refunded 50% of the program tuition. Beginning July 1, 2016 and after, no refunds will be made