Human Systems Integration, it’s time to take centre stage

There is an old engineering design joke, probably more a wry observation, that the most dangerous component to a motor vehicle is the nut holding the steering wheel. On its own, a motor vehicle is an inert, albeit highly complex, technological system. It takes people, also a highly complex sociotechnical system, to activate and apply its purpose. However, that purpose does not necessarily need to be part of its original design – a car can transport its occupants safely, efficiently, and comfortably, but it can also kill. As humans and technology converge, making sense of the resulting combined complexity is the focus of an interdisciplinary field called human systems integration, or HSI.

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What’s driving the rise in dietary wheat sensitivity?

There are few components of the human lifestyle more susceptible to the vagaries of fashion than diet and nutrition. Popular media tout the latest ‘research’ suggesting what is healthy, and self-styled healthy-eating gurus promote their latest diets, usually at the expense of some or other ‘enemy’ of the human gut. Gluten is a current whipping boy, and the rise in numbers embarking on gluten-free diets is buoyed by claims that modern wheat variants are particularly villainous. Two specialists in cereals science have investigated what could be to blame for the increasing prevalence of dietary sensitivity to wheat.

You can read the rest of this article, complete with additional feature content, on the Research Features website here. (Opens in a new tab)

Genome Architecture Theory shakes up cancer research

It’s an inconvenient truth that after 50 years of concerted research and untold billions of dollars in funding every year, a cure for cancer remains elusive. Perhaps the problem sits with the conventional view of cancer. Henry H. Heng, a professor of molecular medicine at the Wayne State School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, suggests we need to see the bigger picture and even rethink our understanding of evolution. His Genome Architecture Theory is telling and provocative, which is why it’s attracting interest from an unlikely collaborator who sees progress in disruption.

It’s probably true that every person who has lost a loved one to cancer has wondered at some point why there isn’t a cure. It’s a fair point, given the tens of thousands of scientists who have spent endless hours and billions of dollars in cancer research every year for over 50 years.

A simple solution where lives are at stake

A hospital’s emergency department triage unit is a high-pressured work environment where situations are often fluid and poor communication can have serious, tragic consequences. But hospitals, like any other extensive work system, demand compliance procedures that can be time-consuming and constraining for triage staff. So how can hospitals balance compliance with the realities of novel and evolving scenarios such as those at an emergency department? Professor Thierry Morineau of the University of Southern Brittany in France believes the answer lies in less compliance.

The image of a typical hospital emergency department (ED) – for those who’ve never worked in one or been lucky enough not to end up in one – is probably framed by popular hospital-themed TV series. An ED is an action-packed, seemingly chaotic environment with endless arrivals of ambulances filled with critically injured people, cared for by hurried staff exchanging calls of