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.
Florian Eichler, MD, discusses his work studying childhood cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a progressive demyelinating disease of the brain. Eichler is director of the Center for Rare Neurological Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, and part of a team that recently received pilot funding from us to improve early detection of this disease.
Florian Eichler, MD, is the director of the Center for Rare Neurological Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is a neurologist who leverages the biology of single gene disorders which affect the nervous system to develop treatments for leukodystrophies and hereditary neuropathies. Eichler aims to accelerate progress and treatment for rare conditions by identifying knowledge gaps and creating partnerships.
“Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world,” says David Friedman, director of the glaucoma service at Mass Eye and Ear. Friedman discusses his current Harvard Catalyst pilot grant to improve glaucoma treatment by studying a contact lens that can deliver medication.
David Friedman, MD, PhD, MPH, is director of the glaucoma division, medical director of clinical research, and the Alfred and Diane Kaneb Professor of Ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. His research has focused on angle closure glaucoma, ophthalmic epidemiology, and glaucoma therapy, with an emphasis on medication adherence among glaucoma patients. He is renowned for his contributions to the study of the mechanisms, epidemiology, and prevention of angle-closure glaucoma. Over the last 20 years he has worked closely with researchers in Singapore, Guangzhou, Beijing, and South India.
“Hallucinations are often associated with greater delusions, which leads to poor performance in processing visual information,” says Paulo Lizano, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Lizano discusses his recent Harvard Catalyst pilot grant to improve visual processing in patients with schizophrenia and other psychoses using non-invasive brain stimulation.
Paulo Lizano, MD, PhD, is an instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on utilizing imaging, blood-based biomarker technology, and neuromodulation to better characterize and offer potential interventions in serious mental illness, specifically idiopathic psychotic disorders. Lizano’s long-term goal is to become an established academic neuropsychiatric researcher who identifies both diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, as well as novel treatment targets for patients living with psychosis, particularly those in the early stages.
“For vision-impaired people, visual aids are very important and can be lifesaving,” says Gang Luo, PhD, Schepens Eye Research Institute. Luo discusses the expense of these aids for patients – more than $15,000 – and his Harvard Catalyst pilot grant to develop a free smartphone app to detect myopia.
Gang Luo, PhD, is an associate professor at the Schepens Eye Research Institute and Harvard Medical School. His primary research interests include vision science, vision assistive technology, and vision care technology based on mobile platform. He received his PhD from Chongqing University, Chongqing, China.
Special guest host Karen Emmons, PhD, faculty lead for our Community Engagement program, interviews Sheila Dillon, chief of Housing and director of Neighborhood Development for the City of Boston, and Jessie Gaeta, chief medical officer for Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. Dillon and Gaeta discuss their combined efforts to help protect Boston’s homeless population from COVID-19. This episode was produced in partnership with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Initiative on Health and Homelessness.
This episode was produced in partnership with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Initiative on Health and Homelessness and was recorded on August 28, 2020.
Jessie M. Gaeta, MD, is the chief medical officer of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP), where she has practiced internal medicine since 2002. She oversees the clinical practice of this unique community health center that serves 12,000 people annually across dozens of clinical sites, including homeless shelters, the street, and one of the first medical respite programs in the country. Gaeta also directs BHCHP’s Institute for Research, Quality, and Policy in Homeless Health. Her passions include ending homelessness and bending the curve on overdose deaths.
Sheila Dillon, MBA, cabinet chief of housing and director of the Department of Neighborhood Development for the City of Boston, is a member of Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s cabinet and acts as advisor on housing issues in the city. She oversees the management of the Boston Home Center, the Neighborhood Housing Development team, the Real Estate Management and Sales team, and spearheads the city’s efforts around housing Boston’s homeless. In addition, she leads the Office of Housing Stability, and is charged with protecting residents’ tenancies in Boston’s competitive real estate market.
Karen Emmons, PhD, is professor of social and behavioral science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and faculty lead of Harvard Catalyst’s Community Engagement program. She is a behavioral scientist with a strong track record of funded research in community-based approaches to cancer prevention in a variety of settings that serve under-resourced communities, including low income housing and community health centers. Her work targets a range of cancer risk factors, including nutrition, physical activity, sun exposure, tobacco and second-hand smoke exposure, and cancer screening.
“It is always about the patient’s safety first,” says Alexa Kimball, MD, MPH, CEO and president of Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Kimball discusses how COVID-19 has affected her work as a both a dermatology researcher and CEO and challenges associated.
Alexa Kimball, MD, MPH, is CEO and president of Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, co-chair of the Beth Israel Lahey Health Performance Network Board, on the Board of Trustees of Beth Israel Lahey Health, and professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. Her research includes psoriasis and hidradenitis suppurativa.
“Phase 1 clinical trial is the first step when you’re translating a discovery in the lab to humans,” says Katy Stephenson, MD, MPH, director of the Center of Virology and Vaccine Research Clinical Trials Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Stephenson discusses her past work in clinical trials and her team’s current involvement in a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Katy Stephenson, MD, MPH, is director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research Clinical Trials Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Stephenson is a physician-scientist who specializes in infectious diseases and immunology. The goal of her research is to develop novel biomedical interventions to prevent and treat HIV and emerging infectious diseases such as Zika virus and COVID-19.
“There are still mysteries out there that we need to understand,” says Yonatan Grad, MD, PhD, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, on his work addressing the spread of COVID-19 and possible interventions to help combat this pandemic.
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.