A podcast series highlighting fascinating stories of medical research ThinkResearch Podcast
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We all are impacted by, and reap the benefits of, medical research discoveries. From over-the-counter drugs, to healthcare policies and educational interventions, many of these advancements are a result of incredible feats, decades of work, and sometimes serendipitous events. Join us as we sit down with Harvard researchers to discuss these captivating behind-the-scenes stories of research.

October 18, 2017: Reducing the Effects: The Study of Strokes



W. Taylor Kimberly, MD, PhD, is a critical care and stroke neurologist in the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is the Associate Chief of the Division of Neurocritical Care and Emergency Neurology, and Associate Director of the MGH Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Kimberly's clinical interests focus on the critical care management of acute neurological and neurosurgical diseases, and the Kimberly lab studies mechanisms of secondary injury after acute stroke and subarachnoid hemorrhage. His laboratory also develops and implements novel biomarker tools to characterize the types of secondary brain injury, linking them to molecular pathways. These studies are also connected to Dr. Kimberly's leadership in the conduct of multicenter phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials, including the GAMES-Pilot, GAMES-RP, and CHARM trials.


October 4, 2017: Fighting Cancer using the Immune System



Niroshana Anandasabapathy, MD, PhD, is an investigative physician scientist formally trained in clinical translation, cancer biology, immunology, and dermatology. She is an Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), specializing in melanoma. Dr. Anandasabapathy conducts laboratory-based investigation in the fields of cutaneous immunology and cancer immunotherapy, studying tissue specific mechanisms of tumor immune escape. Her research program broadly investigates how mechanisms of tissue homeostasis in peripheral tissues such as skin lead to tumor immune escape of skin cancers. She is a member of the BWH Department of Dermatology post-doctoral scholarship oversight committee, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and Harvard Program in Immunology.


September 20, 2017: A National Debate: The Affordable Care Act

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Benjamin Sommers, MD, PhD, is associate professor of health policy and economics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is a health economist and primary care physician whose main research interests are health policy for vulnerable populations and the health care safety net. Sommers has received numerous awards for his research, including the 2017 Health Services Research Impact Award for his work on the Affordable Care Act, the 2015 Article-of-the-Year Award from AcademyHealth, and the Outstanding Junior Investigator Award from the Society of General Internal Medicine. In 2011-2012, he served as a senior adviser in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. His research has been published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of Health Economics, and Health Affairs, and covered by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and National Public Radio. His current research projects focus on barriers to health care access among low-income adults, Medicaid policy, and national health reform.

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September 6, 2017: The Chemical Effect: Looking at Health Disparities in Exposure

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Tamarra James-Todd, MPH, PhD, is the Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Environmental Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology in the Departments of Environmental Health and Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  As an epidemiologist, her research focuses on environmental chemical exposures, reproductive health outcomes, and racial/ethnic disparities in women's health.  She was among the first to report that phthalates, synthetic chemicals used as plasticizers in many consumer products, were associated with diabetes and diabetes risk markers in women.  Dr. James-Todd's work currently focuses on environmental chemicals and metabolic dysregulation in pregnancy. 


August 23, 2017: A Global Health Concern: Providing Surgical Care for All

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Mark G. Shrime, MD, MPH, PhD, FACS, is an assistant professor of Otolaryngology and of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and serves as the research director at the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change at Harvard Medical School. In addition, he is an otolaryngologist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and associate faculty at Ariadne Labs. His academic pursuits focus on surgical delivery in low- and middle-income countries, where he has a specific interest in the intersection of health and impoverishment. His work aims to determine optimal policies and platforms for surgical delivery that maximize health benefits while simultaneously minimizing the risk of financial catastrophe faced by patients. Shrime received his MD from the University of Texas in 2001, after taking a year to teach organic chemistry in Singapore. Medical school was followed by a residency in otolaryngology at the joint Columbia/Cornell program in Manhattan, followed, in turn, by a fellowship in head and neck surgical oncology at the University of Toronto in 2007. He completed a second fellowship in microvascular reconstructive surgery, also at the University of Toronto, in 2008. Shrime was the first to identify a novel independent prognostic indicator in head and neck cancer. To date, he has worked and taught in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Benin, Togo, Congo, Haiti, Saudi Arabia, and Madagascar. In May, 2011, he graduated with an MPH in global health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where he was a finalist for both the Albert Schweitzer award and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Student Recognition award. In May, 2015, he received his PhD in health policy from Harvard University, with a concentration in decision science. His research is supported by the Damon Runyon Cancer Foundation, the GE Foundation's Safe Surgery 2020 project, and the Steven C. and Carmella Kletjian Foundation. When not working, he is an avid photographer and rock climber, and has competed on Seasons 8 and 9 of American Ninja Warrior.


August 9, 2017: Predicting the Path: The Study of Infectious Diseases

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Bill Hanage, PhD, is associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a faculty member in the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. He researches the epidemiology and evolution of infectious diseases, using genetics to trace the emergence and spread of dangerous pathogens causing pneumonia, meningitis, and drug resistant infections. Hanage also uses computer models to investigate their evolution, with a focus on the remarkable ability of bacterial genes to 'jump' from one species to another. He has written over 100 articles and book chapters on these subjects and has won the Fleming Prize for his research, named for the discoverer of penicillin, Alexander Fleming.


July 26, 2017: The S.M.A.R.T. Bandage: Improving Measurement of Tissue Health

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Conor L. Evans, PhD, received his degree from Harvard University. He carried out his postdoctoral training research in the application of advanced microscopy to cancer research, and now serves as an assistant professor at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine of Harvard Medical School at the Massachusetts General Hospital. His lab's research is focused on the development and clinical translation of optical microscopy and spectroscopy tools, with specific interests in ultrasensitive detection of molecular markers, label-free imaging of tissues, and the imaging and quantification of tissue oxygenation. Evans has led the use of coherent Raman imaging technologies in biomedicine, and was the first to apply this imaging toolkit for the real-time visualization of lipids in skin in vivo. He has spearheaded the development of a number of imaging devices and methods, including coherent Raman imaging, nanoparticle imaging toolkits, and "smart" sensing bandages. He currently holds 11 patents and patent applications and has more than 45 peer-reviewed publications. A recipient of the NIH Director's New Innovator Award, his recent efforts in the synthesis of bright oxygen sensors has resulted in the creation of four new porphyrin molecules that are currently being translated for clinical use.

Haley L. Marks, PhD, is a current postdoctoral research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital's Wellman Center for Photomedicine. Under the direction of Conor L. Evans, PhD, her current work focuses on the development of phosphor-embedded adhesive materials which allow for imaging and quantification of transcutaneous tissue oxygenation. She received her PhD in biomedical engineering in the Optical BioSensing Lab at Texas A&M University under Gerard Coté, PhD, in 2016. Marks received a 2014 Whitaker International Fellowship to conduct research involving aptamer-functionalized plasmonic magnetic nanoparticles in the lab of Duncan Graham, PhD, at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow Scotland, and was a recipient of a 2016 Ocean Optics Young Investigator award for this work. Her current research interests include translational biophotonics, nanotechnology, point-of-care monitoring, and bioanalytical sensors.


July 12, 2017: Studying Abroad: Researching the Spread of Disease

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Caroline Buckee, PhD, joined Harvard School of Public Health in 2010 as an assistant professor of epidemiology, and in 2013, was named the associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Her focus is on elucidating the mechanisms driving the dynamics and evolution of the malaria parasite and other genetically diverse pathogens. After receiving a PhD from the University of Oxford, Buckee worked at the Kenya Medical Research Institute to analyze clinical and epidemiological aspects of malaria as a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow. Her work led to an Omidyar Fellowship at the Santa Fe Institute, where she developed theoretical approaches to understanding malaria parasite evolution and ecology. Her work at Harvard extends these approaches using mathematical models to bridge the biological scales underlying malaria epidemiology. Buckee works with experimental researchers to understand the molecular mechanisms within the host that underlie disease and infection, and uses genomic and mobile phone data to link these individual-level processes to understand population level patterns of transmission. She was named one of the 35 MIT Innovators Under 35, and appeared in the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine.


June 28, 2017: Depolluted: Improving Indoor Air Quality in Uganda

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Peggy Lai, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a physician in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is trained as a pulmonary physician and an environmental epidemiologist using 'omics to better understand the relationship between indoor air pollution and chronic lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She previously worked as a clinician in countries such as Guatemala, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, and Uganda providing care to patients in resource limited settings. Lai currently conducts research on indoor air pollution and lung health in Boston, Massachusetts; Shanghai, China; and Mbarara, Uganda.


June 14, 2017: Decoded: DNA Repair and the Future of Cancer Treatment

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Zachary D. Nagel, PhD, is an assistant professor of radiation biology in the department of environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He received his BS in chemistry and German from the University of Michigan, obtained a PhD in chemistry from UC Berkeley, and carried out his postdoctoral research in the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT. Nagel's current research is focused on how DNA repair affects cancer therapy outcomes and disease risk. His work involves measuring the ability of human cells to repair their DNA, and using this information to predict how the cells will respond to DNA damaging agents, which are present in our environment, and are used to treat cancer. The long-term goal of this research is to develop new strategies for personalized cancer prevention and treatment.


May 24, 2017: Positive Effects: A Career in Public Health

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Sara Bleich, PhD, is a professor of public health policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management. She is also the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Bleich's scholarship lies at the nexus of health policy and health services research. Her research provides evidence to support policy alternatives for obesity prevention and control, particularly among populations at higher risk for obesity. A signature theme throughout her work is an interest in asking simple, meaningful questions about the complex problem of obesity which can fill important gaps in the literature. Her research has been published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Health Affairs, and American Journal of Public Health, and has been featured in outlets such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and National Public Radio. Bleich is the past recipient of an award for "most outstanding abstract" at the International Conference on Obesity in Sydney, Australia, an award for "best research manuscript" in the journal Obesity, and an award for excellence in public interest communication from the Frank Conference. She was appointed as a White House Fellow (2015-2016) where she was a senior policy advisor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the First Lady's Let's Move initiative. She holds a BA in psychology from Columbia University and a PhD in health policy from Harvard University.


May 10, 2017: Beyond Borders: Combating HIV in Africa

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Ingrid Katz, MD, is an assistant professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. She serves as an associate physician in the Division of Women's Health and the Division of Medical Communications, in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and is a research scientist at the Center for Global Health at Massachusetts General Hospital. She obtained a BA from Amherst College, and a MA in Health Science from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health before pursuing her degree in Medicine at University of California at San Francisco (AOA). After completing her medical training in internal medicine and infectious diseases, she received a Global Women's Health Fellowship to study HPV vaccine uptake among adolescents in Soweto, South Africa. Her current research focuses on factors affecting refusal to participate in HIV treatment programs among HIV-infected, treatment eligible adults presenting for testing.

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April 19, 2017: Health Decision Science: Assessing the Value of Information

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Ankur Pandya, PhD, is an assistant professor of health decision science in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His areas of interest are: applied decision science studies evaluating cardiovascular disease policies; connecting cost-effectiveness analysis with broader value-based health policies being implemented or piloted in U.S. health reform; and methodological topics within disease simulation modeling. Pandya's research has been covered in The New York Times, National Public Radio, NBC Nightly News, and other media outlets. He holds a BS from Cornell University in Nutritional Sciences, an MPH from Yale University in Health Policy and Administration, and graduated from the Harvard PhD Program in Health Policy.

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April 5, 2017: For Human Use: Bringing Together a Community to Fight Angliosarcoma

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Corrie Painter, PhD, is the associate director of operations and scientific outreach at the Broad Institute. A trained cancer researcher with a PhD in biochemistry, Painter partners with advocacy groups and engages patients with metastatic breast cancer through social media in order to carry out the Metastatic Breast Cancer Project, a genomics study conducted at the Broad Institute where patients can consent online to donate their stored tumor samples, saliva, medical records, and their voice in order to directly accelerate the pace of discovery.

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March 22, 2017: Other Side Effects: the economics of healthcare

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Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD, is the Ruth L. Newhouse Associate Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and a physician in the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. As an economist and a physician, Jena's research involves several areas of health economics and policy including the economics of physician behavior and the physician workforce, healthcare productivity, medical malpractice, and the economics of medical innovation. His work has been published in leading journals of medicine and economics and been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and other prominent news outlets. His work has been featured in several Freakonomics podcasts. Jena graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with majors in biology and economics. He received his MD and PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago, where he was funded by the NIH Medical Scientist Training Program. Jena completed his residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2007, he was awarded the Eugene Garfield Award by Research America for his work demonstrating the economic value of medical innovation in HIV/AIDS. In 2013, Jena received the NIH Director's Early Independence Award to fund research on the physician determinants of healthcare spending, quality, and patient outcomes. In 2015, he was awarded the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) New Investigator Award. From 2014-15, Jena served as a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Diagnostic Errors in Healthcare.

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March 8, 2017: Let's Get Clinical: The role of physical activity in preventing disease

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I-Min Lee, MD, ScD, FACSM, is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her primary area of interest is in the role of physical activity for preventing chronic diseases and enhancing longevity. Lee has served on national and international expert panels developing physical activity guidelines, including the 2008 US Physical Activity Guidelines, the 2010 WHO Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health, and the 2013 AHA/ACC Guideline on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk.


February 22, 2017: Teach Them Young: Addressing the Childhood Obesity Epidemic Through After-School Programs

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Rebekka Lee, ScD, is a research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She has spent the past decade working at the Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity, where she currently uses mixed methods to conduct evaluation research with partners at the Boston Public Health Commission, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and YMCA. Her research focuses on designing and evaluating community-based interventions that translate into real world policy and environmental change, focusing in particular on investigating the contextual factors that impact effective implementation and promote health equity. Lee completed her masters and doctoral degrees in the Department of Social and Behavior Sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health. She also serves as an Evaluation Consultant and instructor for the Population Health Research Program at Harvard Catalyst | The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center, providing training and technical assistance on mixed methods, implementation science, and community-based participatory research. Part of her work at Harvard Catalyst is leading a mixed methods implementation evaluation of nine clinical and community partnerships participating in the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund. She was selected for the inaugural cohort of the Mentored Training for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Cancer and honed her knowledge of mixed methods in a master course with John W. Creswell, PhD.

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February 8, 2017: Clinical Thinking: Why Clinical Trials Matter

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Julie Buring, ScD, is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, and a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. The primary focus of her research is on the prevention of chronic diseases, especially among women. Buring has been involved in the design, conduct, analysis, and interpretation of a number of large-scale randomized clinical trials of the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases. These include the Women's Health Study, evaluating the preventive roles of aspirin and vitamin E; the Physicians' Health Study II, evaluating vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and a multivitamin; and VITAL, an ongoing trial of vitamin D and fish oil. She is actively involved in the teaching and training of students and fellows in epidemiology, both nationally and internationally, and is co-director of an NIH T32 training grant in the Epidemiology of Cardiovascular Disease. Buring serves as chair of the Institutional Review Board of Harvard Medical School.

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January 25, 2017: The VITAL study - Impact of Vitamins on chronic disease

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JoAnn Manson, MD, MPH, DrPH is professor of medicine and the Michael and Lee Bell Professor of Women's Health at Harvard Medical School. She is also chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine and co-director of the Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Manson is an endocrinologist, epidemiologist, and principal investigator of several research studies, including the VITamin D and OmegA-3 TriaL (VITAL); the Women's Health Initiative Clinical Center in Boston; the cardiovascular component of the Nurses' Health Study; the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS); and the Boston site of the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study. She has received numerous honors, including the Woman in Science Award from the American Medical Women's Association, the American Heart Association's (AHA) Population Research Prize, the AHA's Distinguished Scientist Award, election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (National Academy of Medicine), membership in the Association of American Physicians (AAP), and the 2013 Bernadine Healy Award for Visionary Leadership in Women's Health.

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January 11, 2017: Kidney Stones: The evolution of treatment with Dr. Peter Steinberg

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Peter Steinberg, MD, is Assistant Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Director of Endourology and Stone Management at BIDMC. He earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Dr. Steinberg completed a residency in urology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire and a fellowship in robotics, laparoscopy, and endourology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Board certified in urology, Dr. Steinberg's clinical interests include laparoscopy, robotics, and endourology, kidney stones, and general urology.

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December 7, 2016: Bio-inspiration: From nature to medical breakthrough with Dr. Jeff Karp

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Jeff Karp, PhD, is a world leader in drug delivery, stem cell therapeutics, and tissue adhesives. He is an Associate Professor at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Principal Faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and an affiliate faculty at the Broad Institute and at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.



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Zika Virus: Understanding the Global Crisis with Dr. Laura Riley

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Bio: Laura Riley, MD, a Boston native, received her undergraduate education at Harvard University; her medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh and her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh-Magee Women's Hospital. She completed subspecialty training in maternal-fetal medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and in infectious disease at Boston University Medical Center. She is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Riley joined the obstetrical service at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1995, where she focuses on high-risk pregnancy with an emphasis on infectious disease complications of obstetrics and she is the Vice Chair for Obstetrics. Nationally, serves as a consultant to the Centers for Disease Control on H1N1, Ebola virus, and Zika virus guidelines; she is the first ob/gyn member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice.

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Reaching Clinical Mass: A Career in Community Based Research with Dr. Charles Deutsch

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Bio: Charles Deutsch, ScD is Director of the Harvard Catalyst Population Health Research Program (PHRP). Dr. Deutsch is responsible for the day-to-day leadership and operations of PHRP, which is the focal point for Harvard Catalyst's community engagement and population health research translation activities. Throughout his career he has worked to demonstrate coordinated and results-oriented engagement of academic health centers in applying what we know to what we do in health programs and policies.

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Diabetes: Advancing Research, Improving Treatment with Dr. Enrico Cagliero

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Bio: Enrico Cagliero, MD, completed his internship and residency at the University of California, San Diego, and his fellowship in Endocrinology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He then became an independent investigator at Harvard Medical School in 1990 and worked on the cellular mechanisms responsible for the vascular complications of diabetes. Cagliero joined the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1995, where he is now dividing his time between a busy clinical practice and his clinical research efforts. His major research interests include islet cell transplant for the treatment of type 1 diabetic patients and the development of new interventions for the prevention and treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

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Cows to Coumadin with Dr. Elliott Antman

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Bio: Elliott Antman, MD, is professor of medicine and an associate dean for Clinical/Translational Research at Harvard Medical School, a senior investigator in the Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) Study Group, and a senior physician in the Cardiovascular Division of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He was president of the American Heart Association (2014-2015) and is now the immediate past president. The American Heart Association honored him with the 2016 Paul Dudley White Award.

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