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.
“Food in the U.S. is cheap. It’s very accessible; it’s very unhealthy. And it’s strongly marketed to us,” says Sara Bleich, professor of public health policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Bleich discusses her research evaluating policies related to obesity and diet in vulnerable populations in our latest podcast.
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. 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. 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. Bleich was recently 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 degrees from Columbia (BA, Psychology) and Harvard (PhD, Health Policy).
“It’s astonishing to understand how little we know about how people become pregnant,” says Caroline Mitchell, MD, MPH, director of the Vulvovaginal Disorders Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. In our latest podcast, Mitchell discusses her research with IVF patients to identify how the vaginal microbiome impacts fertility.
Caroline Mitchell, MD, MPH, is a faculty member in the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology and director of the Vulvovaginal Disorders Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Funded by NIH and foundation grants, her work focuses on the relationship between the vaginal microbiota, mucosal immune responses, and reproductive health.
Mitchell received her undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University, and her MPH degree and OB/Gyn residency training at the University of Washington in Seattle.
“There are about 15,000 deaths a year from C. diff.,” says Georg Gerber, MD, PhD, MPH, co-director of the Massachusetts Host-Microbiome Center. In our latest podcast, Gerber discusses his research on predicting recurring C. difficile infections in patients by utilizing precision medicine, microbiome data, and machine learning.
Georg Gerber, MD, PhD, is co-director of the Massachusetts Host-Microbiome Center, assistant professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and associate pathologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Center for Advanced Molecular Diagnostics. His research interests involve building novel computational models and high-throughput experimental systems to understand the role of the microbiota in human diseases, and applying these findings to develop new diagnostic tests and therapeutic interventions to improve patient care. He has founded several companies focused on developing and applying 3D graphics technologies to create feature and IMAX® films. Gerber completed a fellowship in infectious disease pathology and molecular microbiology, and a residency in clinical pathology at BWH. He received his MD from HMS, master’s and PhD in computer science from MIT, and a master’s in infectious diseases and BA in pure mathematics from UC Berkeley.
What are the factors driving antibiotic resistance in gonorrhea? Yonatan Grad, MD, PhD, Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, discusses his lab’s work exploring antibiotic resistance in gonorrhea and the methods employed to tackle this problem.
Yonatan Grad, MD, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Using a combination of genomics, microbiology, mathematical modeling, and epidemiological tools, his lab investigates how pathogens evolve and spread. In collaboration with hospitals and public health institutions, his projects include studying outbreaks, as well as the biology and epidemiology that underlies the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance. He earned his MD and PhD at Harvard Medical School, trained in internal medicine at BWH, and in infectious diseases at BWH and Massachusetts General Hospital. He completed his research fellowship at the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at HSPH with Marc Lipsitch.
“Large wounds have the same risk of infection as small wounds,” explains Victor Neel, PhD, director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Dermatologic Surgery Unit. In this podcast, Neel discusses his research examining the interplay between skin bacteria and infection post-surgery.
Victor A. Neel, MD, PhD, is a board-certified dermatologist and has completed more than 24,000 Mohs procedures, making him one of Boston’s most experienced and knowledgeable Mohs surgeons. Neel is the director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Dermatologic Surgery Unit. He graduated from Princeton University, received his MD from Cornell University Medical College, and his PhD in genetics from Rockefeller University. He completed his dermatology residency at Brown University School of Medicine. Afterwards, he became a fellow in Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology at the UCLA School of Medicine.
Professionally, Neel is a member of several professional associations including American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS) and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), where he is a preceptor (teacher) for several procedures. Neel is also assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. He is a co-author of numerous peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed publications in print, online media, and other media regarding issues such as skin cancers and Mohs surgery, as well as minimally invasive procedures to help aging skin. He has a particular interest in the biology of skin cancer and the genetics of aging, and has several ongoing clinical studies and basic research projects.
“Our experience as physicians and patients is kind of getting lost in this web of the healthcare system,” says Michael Barnett, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In this podcast, Barnett discusses his research analyzing patient sharing networks and their associated cost of care, as well as his work evaluating policies aimed at reducing opioid use disorder.
Michael Barnett, MD, is assistant professor of health policy and management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a primary care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Barnett received his MD from Harvard Medical School and completed a residency and fellowship in primary care and general internal medicine at BWH. Barnett’s research focuses on understanding and improving the healthcare delivery system. His interests relate to the role of physicians in the opioid epidemic as prescribers and providers of treatment for opioid use disorder. He has also worked on studying innovative models for healthcare payment and care delivery. His research has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, British Medical Journal, and Annals of Internal Medicine. He has also been featured or cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, CNN, and The Economist. Barnett has received best research of the year awards from the Society of General Internal Medicine and Academy Health. He is the recipient of a Career Development Award from the National Institute on Aging.
Jeff Karp, PhD, Brigham and Women’s hospital, discusses the concept of radical simplicity, which he describes as “breaking down the problem into simple terms that you can test.” Karp explains how he used this approach in stem cell therapy research to inform the translational and commercialization process.
Jeff Karp, PhD, is a professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He is also a principal faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and an affiliate faculty member at the Broad Institute and at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.
Karp works in the fields of drug delivery, medical devices, stem cell therapeutics, and tissue adhesives. He has published over 125 peer-reviewed papers, with >18,500 citations, and has given over 300 invited lectures. He has over 100 issued or pending national and international patents. Several technologies developed in his lab have led to multiple products currently in development or on the market and to the launch of seven companies that have raised over $300 million in funding. Technologies include high-tech skincare, tissue adhesives and 3D printed biomedical devices, immunomodulation with biologically responsive materials, small molecule regenerative therapeutics with an initial target of hearing loss, cannabinoid therapeutics, biomedical devices to improve child safety, needles that automatically stop when they reach their target, and a bioengineered luminal coating for controlled GI targeting.
“I think some of the most exciting areas have been where there are no guideposts,” says Martha Shenton of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In this podcast, Shenton reflects on her career in neuroimaging, discusses her research looking at schizophrenia, and gives advice to aspiring researchers.
Martha Shenton, PhD, is a professor in psychiatry and radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, founding director of the Psychiatry Neuroimaging Laboratory at Harvard Medical School, and a health scientist at the VA Boston Healthcare System. Shenton and her team have been developing and applying MRI techniques to the study of schizophrenia, and she is now working to advance our understanding of mild traumatic brain injury using advanced MRI techniques. Shenton has authored over 300 peer-reviewed empirical articles and proceedings, and has received numerous awards throughout her career.