Can exercise fill the reductionist gap? Reflections on Dr. Michael Joyner’s Keynote

Can exercise fill the reductionist gap? Reflections on Dr. Michael Joyner’s Keynote

John Quindry, Ph.D., FACSM |  Sept. 6, 2018

This is part one of a series of blogs from attendees at ACSM's Conference on Integrative Physiology of Exercise. The following blog is a reflection on the Opening Keynote delivered by Michael Joyner, M.D, FACSM. 

Having just sat through the Michael Joyner keynote talk, the opening event at the ACSM Integrative Physiology of Exercise meeting in San Diego, I’m left wondering if I can go back to graduate school. (I just checked with my wife…the answer is “NO!”) But Joyner’s talk was that inspiring.Michael Joyner IPE Keynote

As with any engaging academic lecture, Dr. Joyner had three points to make—the first being that the luminaries of modern science have crafted more than a few hollow promises about how omics and big data will solve societies medical woes. Indeed, there is a drug discovery gap, a health outcomes gap and the undeniable reality that when science removes a singular mechanism from a biological system, parallel mechanisms take up the slack.

Dr. Joyner’s second point was refreshingly made from the perspective that genetics do not rule all outcomes. In essence, humans are “plastic.” In true Joyner fashion, the “exercise is good medicine” message was packaged in a nuanced way that I’ll admit I’ve never before heard. The middle point was topped by reassuring the audience that phenotyping is hard—a strong call to do more research that overlaps mechanistic, parallel human and animal models, clinical and translational.

The final point was perhaps best of all: Dr. Joyner shared eight novel research ideas. Each idea, if performed correctly, would likely prove to be a landmark study. Are you sure I can’t go back to grad school?! He also coined the “Joyner criteria” for whether regenerative medicine is a success: benefits of new interventions should exceed that of exercise training.

So yes, I was inspired. Safe to state that in a room of smart people (everyone has or is earning a terminal degree of one type or another), Dr. Joyner is quite probably the brightest. His ability to bring food for thought is unparalleled within the ACSM umbrella. His talk was definitely worth the price of admission.     

See this news release for more details on Dr. Joyner's keynote. 

John Quindry, Ph.D., FACSM, is a member of the faculty at the University of Montana, Department of Health and Human Performance. He served as a co-planner of ACSM's Conference on Integrative Physiology of Exercise.