Health in Translation event jumpstarts collaboration among disciplines to find solutions to vexing health challenges

(Left to right) Alyssa M. Peckham, assistant clinical professor of pharmacy, Steve Clark, assistant clinical professor of physical therapy, movement, and rehabilitation sciences, Lynn Reede, associate clinical professor of nursing, Shan Mohammed, clinical professor of health sciences, and Alycia Markowski, certified orthopedic specialist, speak on a panel during the Health In Translation event at Raytheon Amphitheater. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

When it comes to finding solutions for big health challenges—opioid addiction, the way the environment affects our health, and how we can more quickly and accurately diagnose injuries and illnesses—it’s going to take more than one person, one team, or one discipline. These are complex challenges that will require a vast network of expertise to solve.

Carmen Sceppa, dean of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, gives opening remarks during the Health In Translation event at Raytheon Amphitheater. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

The inaugural Health in Translation event, hosted by Northeastern’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences, convened a wide range of people—including clinical professors, healthcare professionals, and researchers from disciplines across the university—to jumpstart collaboration in order to find novel solutions to grand health challenges.

“The Bouvé College has a great opportunity to work collaboratively across the whole university system and beyond, to integrate solutions with entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists, and more,” said Carmen Sceppa, who is dean of the college. “This is the beginning of what we hope is an ongoing dialogue across disciplines.”

Jeffrey Cooper, who pioneered the field of patient safety and co-founded the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation, also attested to the power of collaboration when it comes to solving problems.

In his keynote address, Cooper, an engineer by training, said he “would’ve gotten nowhere, and done nothing if it weren’t for the fact that I partnered with clinicians, and people in other disciplines, for my entire life.”  

For Alycia Markowski, a clinical professor at Northeastern who was part of a panel discussion at Monday’s event, such collaboration might look like the use of artificial intelligence to help students and physicians parse hard-to-read ultrasound images of injured joints.

Steve Clark, an assistant clinical professor and director of performance rehabilitation in Northeastern’s athletics department, wanted to establish a system to collect high-quality, reliable data on the injuries student-athletes suffer so that he could influence training schedules to prevent those injuries in the first place.

Markowski and Clark were joined by clinical professor Shan Mohammed, assistant clinical professor Alyssa Peckham, and associate clinical professor Lynn Reede, for a panel discussion moderated by Carla Brodley, dean of the Khoury College of Computer Sciences.

Brodley offered suggestions for collaboration with students and faculty in the Khoury College whose work dovetailed with that of the clinicians, and encouraged those in the audience to consider ways their own work might fit, too.

In doing so, she echoed Gene Tunik, associate dean of research in Bouvé, who challenged his colleagues in health sciences and those across Northeastern to “create a community where clinical and research faculty collaborate.” 

“This is where the proverbial rubber hits the road: When clinicians, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and scientists work side-by-side to tackle the really vexing health challenges that we face,” he said.

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