Patty Mabry & Bobby MilsteinThe Institute on Systems Science and Health (ISSH) is a week-long, immersive learning opportunity designed to introduce general principles of systems science and foster a deeper understanding of selected methodologies that may be used to explore the behavioral and social drivers of population health.

Learners enroll in one of three methodologically-based “tracks” at ISSH: system dynamics modeling; agent-based modeling; or social network analysis. Plenary sessions feature leading scholars reflecting on landmark accomplishments and innovative directions for systems science, whereas track-specific sessions enable in-depth, case-based learning about a particular methodology. Federal funding panels, reflections from ISSH alumni, a keynote address, and networking sessions round out the week’s activities.

Learners are selected through a competitive process and preference is given to investigators who aspire to use systems science methodologies to improve population health through NIH and CDC-supported work. Learners have no formal training in their chosen methodology, but may be at any level of their career (i.e., doctoral candidate to full professor or veteran practitioner). An important goal of ISSH is to promote methodological understanding while also creating the foundation for future collaborations. In an effort to disseminate ISSH beyond the in-person attendees, an archive of resources, including video casts, slides, lecture notes, exercises, and bibliography is housed online after the event for use by participants and other interested persons.

In an effort to showcase a variety of systems science programs in the U.S., the ISSH host institution is rotated each year. In a similar vein, new faculty and lecturers are sought annually to keep the program fresh and to highlight a variety of issues and perspectives.