Computational Health Informatics Program | Landmark Ideas Series

Upcoming lectures


Lawrence Lessig headshot

The Privacy Confusion: First Thoughts on Clearer Thinking

Fecha: Monday, March 1, 2021
Time: 4-5:30 p.m.
Where: Zoom webinar (register here)
Speaker: Lawrence Lessig, JD — Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School

Privacy has become a central focus of policy debates in every context. In this talk, Lessig argues that we’re conceiving of the problem in a fundamentally flawed way. Offered is a different framework, radically different but critically better. Or so it is hoped.

Lawrence Lessig, JD

Lawrence Lessig, JD, is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School. Prior to returning to Harvard, he taught at Stanford Law School, where he founded the Center for Internet and Society, and at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. Lessig is the founder of Equal Citizens and a founding board member of Creative Commons, and serves on the Scientific Board of AXA Research Fund. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, he has received numerous awards including a Webby, the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, Scientific American 50 Award, and Fastcase 50 Award. Cited by The New Yorker as “the most important thinker on intellectual property in the Internet era,” Lessig has focused much of his career on law and technology, especially as it affects copyright. His current work addresses “institutional corruption” — relationships which, while legal, weaken public trust in an institution — especially as that affects democracy.


Enrico Coiera headshot

People, Ideas, and Machines

Fecha: Monday, April 29, 2021
Time: 5-6:30 p.m.
Where: Zoom webinar (register here)
Speaker: Enrico Coiera, PhD — Director of the Centre for Health Informatics at Australian Institute of Health Innovation

In an age where technology appears to rule supreme, it is easy to forget that our relationship with technology is complicated. Just as humans shape technology, it shapes us in return. It is also easy to only see things through the lens of the technologies we have to hand, and build solutions that ill-fit reality. Electronic health records, for example, demand that clinical work bends to the needs of documentation, with the end result being burnt-out clinicians who do anything but what they were taught at medical school. Algorithms built with our cleverest machine learning methods just end up making concrete the biases implicit in their data sets. Seeing human systems like healthcare as sociotechnical systems helps us understand these unintended consequences, and gives us a different lens to understand technology design and use.

Enrico Coiera, PhD

Trained in medicine and with a computer science with a PhD in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Dr. Coiera has a research background in both industry and academia and a strong international research reputation for his work on decision support and communication processes in biomedicine. Dr. Coiera spent 10 years at the prestigious Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratories in Bristol, U.K., where he led numerous health technology projects. He has overseen the development and trial of multiple eHealth interventions, including the Healthy.me consumer system as well as clinical decision support systems. Healthy.me technologies underpin a new U.S. health startup called Healthbanc. His textbook Guide to Health Informatics is in its third edition, is widely used internationally, and is translated into several languages. Dr. Coiera has won a number of prestigious awards, including the 2015 International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) François Grémy Award for Excellence and the 2011 UNSW Inventor of the year (Information and Communication Technology) for a literature-based computational discovery system. He was elected Foundation Fellow and first President of the Australian College of Health Informatics, is a foundation member of the International Academy of Health Sciences Informatics, and an International Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics. Dr. Coiera has also held key appointments on boards, councils, and editorial positions on international journals, including Associate Editor of the journal Artificial Intelligence in Medicine.


Michael Kremer headshot

Michael Kremer, PhD

Fecha: TBD
Time: TBD
Where: Zoom webinar (details will be forthcoming)
Speaker: Michael Kremer, PhD — Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago; 2019 Nobel Laureate

Michael Kremer, PhD

Michael Kremer, PhD, is the co-recipient of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, 2019. Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2003. MacArthur Fellowship, 1997.

Previous lectures


Atul Butte headshot

Precisely Practicing Medicine from 700 Trillion Points of Data

Fecha: Monday, February 22, 2021
Speaker: Atul Butte, MD, PhD — University of California Health System

There is an urgent need to take what we have learned in our new data-driven era of medicine and use it to create a new system of precision medicine, delivering the best, safest, cost-effective preventative, or therapeutic intervention at the right time, for the right patients. Dr. Butte’s lab at the University of California, San Francisco, builds and applies tools that convert trillions of points of molecular, clinical, and epidemiological data — measured by researchers and clinicians over the past decade and now commonly termed “big data” — into diagnostics, therapeutics, and new insights into disease. Dr. Butte, a computer scientist and pediatrician, will highlight his center’s recent work on integrating electronic health records data across the entire University of California, and how analytics on this “real world data” can lead to new evidence for drug efficacy, new savings from better medication choices, and new methods to teach intelligence — real and artificial — to more precisely practice medicine.

Atul Butte, MD, PhD

Atul Butte, MD, PhD is the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg Distinguished Professor and inaugural director of the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Butte is also the Chief Data Scientist for the entire University of California Health System, with 20 health professional schools, six medical schools, five academic medical centers, 10 hospitals, and over 1,000 care delivery sites. Dr. Butte has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health for 20 years, is an inventor on 24 patents, and has authored over 200 publications, with research repeatedly featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Wired Magazine. Dr. Butte was elected into the National Academy of Medicine in 2015, and in 2013 he was recognized by the Obama administration as a White House Champion of Change in Open Science for promoting science through publicly available data. Dr. Butte is also a founder of three investor-backed data-driven companies: Personalis (IPO, 2019), providing medical genome sequencing services; Carmenta (acquired by Progenity, 2015), discovering diagnostics for pregnancy complications; and NuMedii, finding new uses for drugs through open molecular data. Dr. Butte trained in Computer Science at Brown University, worked as a software engineer at Apple and Microsoft, received his MD at Brown University, trained in Pediatrics and Pediatric Endocrinology at Boston Children’s Hospital, then received his PhD from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Timothy Yu headshot

Prospects for Hyper-Personalized Medicine

Fecha: Monday, January 11, 2021
Speaker: Timothy Yu, MD, PhD — Neurogeneticist and Researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital

Genome sequencing is revolutionizing the diagnosis of rare diseases, but 95% of these conditions still lack effective therapy. With up to 7,000 distinct genetic diseases to tackle, new and creative frameworks will be necessary to meet this need. Recent advances offer the prospect of platform-based therapeutic approaches to certain genetically targetable disorders — in the right circumstances, facilitating the design and deployment of hyper-personalized drugs for conditions affecting as few as even a single patient. The scientific, clinical, ethical, and regulatory implications of these capabilities will be discussed.

Timothy Yu, MD, PhD

Dr. Tim Yu is a Neurogeneticist and Researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Broad Institute. He was an early pioneer in molecular and bioinformatic methodology for human genome sequencing and its application to the genetics of human disease. His research group in the Division of Genetics and Genomics works at the intersection of genetics, informatics, and neurobiology to understand human neurodevelopment and advance genomic medicine. Current projects range from human population genetic analyses of autism, to genome sequencing for newborn screening and neonatal ICU care, to the development of individualized genomic medicines for rare pediatric disease.


Shep Doeleman headshot

Horizon Telescope: Imaging a Black Hole Through Global Collaboration

Fecha: November 9, 2020
Speaker: Shep Doeleman, PhD — Astrophysicist at Center for Astrophysics

What can medicine learn about collaboration and data sharing from one of the most successful team science projects of all time — creating a telescope the diameter of the earth to snap an image of a black hole? Black holes are cosmic objects so massive and dense that their gravity forms an event horizon: a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. Einstein’s theories predict that a distant observer should see a ring of light encircling the black hole, which forms when radiation emitted by infalling hot gas is lensed by the extreme gravity. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a global array of radio dishes that forms an Earth-sized virtual telescope, which can resolve the nearest supermassive black holes where this ring feature may be measured. On April 10, 2019, the EHT project reported success: we have imaged a black hole and have seen the predicted strong gravitational lensing that confirms the theory of general relativity at the boundary of a black hole. This talk will describe the project and the global collaborative approach that produced these first results, as well as future directions that will enable real-time black hole movies.

Shep Doeleman, PhD

Shep Doeleman, PhD, is an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics and the founding director of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, a synchronized global array of radio observatories designed to examine the nature of black holes. Dr. Doeleman led the international team of researchers that produced the first directly observed image of a black hole. Dr. Doeleman was awarded the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics as the founding director of the EHT Collaboration for the first image of a supermassive black hole. Dr. Doeleman was named one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2019 by Time magazine.


Ricky Bloomfield headshot

Interoperability at Scale

Fecha: Monday, March 2, 2020
Speaker: Ricky Bloomfield, MD — Clinical and Health Informatics Lead at Apple

Healthcare has been slow to adopt scalable, interoperable, user-centric solutions as other industries have done, but technology is finally catching up with the needs of patients. Ricky will share how Apple’s support and use of open standards has helped accelerate adoption across the country.

Ricky Bloomfield, MD

Ricky Bloomfield, MD, is a physician, entrepreneur, developer, and clinical informaticist who is passionate about using technology to improve the health of all people. Dr. Bloomfield joined Apple’s Health team in November 2016 as the Clinical and Health Informatics Lead, where he works on products that empower patients to improve their heath. Prior to joining Apple, Dr. Bloomfield was the Director of Mobile Technology Strategy and a pediatric hospitalist at Duke Health in Durham, N.C., where he began a personal mission to liberate EHR data to empower patients and clinicians to solve healthcare’s biggest problems.


David Clark headshot

Forces Shaping the Future of the Internet

Fecha: Thursday, February 13, 2020
Speaker: David Clark, MS, PhD — An Inventor of the Internet

In the early days of the Internet, technical innovation shaped its future. Today, issues of economics, market dynamics, incentives, and some fundamental aspects of networked systems shape the future. The talk summarized 11 forces that are shaping the future of the Internet and make an argument that we are at a point of inflection in the character of the Internet, as profound as the change in the 1990s when the Internet was commercialized.

David Clark, MS, PhD

David Clark, MS, PhD, led the development of the Internet. Since the mid-1970s, Clark has been leading the development of the Internet; from 1981-89 he acted as Chief Protocol Architect in its development and chaired the Internet Activities Board. Today, Dr. Clark is a Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He is Technical Director of the MIT Internet Policy Research Initiative. His current research looks at redefinition of the architectural underpinnings of the Internet, and the relation of technology and architecture to economic, societal, and policy considerations.

Dr. Clark is former chairman of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Academies and has contributed to a number of studies on the societal and policy impact of computer communications. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and serves as a member of the AAAS Council.

Dr. Clark graduated from Swarthmore College in 1966 and received his PhD from MIT in 1973. He has worked since then at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (formerly the Laboratory for Computer Science), where he is currently a Senior Research Scientist. Dr. Clark’s research interests include networks, network protocols, operating systems, distributed systems, and computer and communications security. After receiving his PhD, he worked on the early stages of the ARPAnet and managed the development of one of the first host implementations of the ARPA network protocols. Following this effort, he worked on local area network technology and was one of the developers of the token ring LAN. This effort led directly to commercial products and helped stimulate the IEEE 802.5 token ring standard. In 2018, he published the book Designing an Internet.


Nicholas Christakis headshot

Social Network Interventions

Fecha: Monday, December 16, 2019
Speaker: Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH

Human beings choose their friends, and often their neighbors and co-workers, and they inherit their relatives; and each of the people to whom we are connected also does the same, such that, in the end, we humans assemble ourselves into face-to-face social networks. Why do we do this? How has natural selection shaped us in this regard? What role do our genes play in the topology of our social ties? And how might a deep understanding of human social network structure and function be used to intervene in the world to make it better?

Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH

Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is a social scientist and physician at Yale University who conducts research in the fields of network science, biosocial science, and behavior genetics. His current work focuses on how human biology and health affect, and are affected by, social interactions and social networks. He directs the Human Nature Lab and is the Co-Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science. He is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science, appointed in the Departments of Sociology; Medicine; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Biomedical Engineering; and the School of Management.

Dr. Christakis received his BS from Yale in 1984, his MD from Harvard Medical School and his MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1989, and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2006; the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010; and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017.

One body of work in his lab focuses on how health and health behavior in one person can influence analogous outcomes in a person’s social network. This work involves the application of statistical and mathematical models to understand the dynamics of diverse phenomena in longitudinally evolving networks. A related body of work uses experiments to examine the spread of altruism, emotions, and health behaviors along network connections online and offline, including with large-scale field trials in the developing world directed at improving public health (e.g., in Honduras and India). His lab has also examined the genetic and evolutionary determinants of social network structure, showing that social interactions have shaped our genome, with related projects that have mapped networks of populations in Tanzania and Sudan who live as all humans did 10,000 years ago. His most recent work has used artificial intelligence (AI) agents (“bots”) to affect social processes online.

Dr. Christakis is the author of over 200 articles and several books. His influential book, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, documented how social networks affect our lives and was translated into 24 languages. His most recent book, Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society, was published in March 2019 and is slated to appear in German, Chinese, Dutch, and Greek, and other languages.

In 2009, Dr. Christakis was named by Time magazine to its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2009 and in 2010, he was listed by Foreign Policy magazine in its annual list of Top 100 Global Thinkers.


Maxine Mackintosh headshot

Big Tech and the National Health Service: Maintaining Equity in the AI Revolution

Fecha: Monday, October 21, 2019
Speaker: Maxine Mackintosh

A day does not go by without a new framework for ethics in AI, particularly in health and social care. But when your health system is based on need versus ability to pay, yet the skills, computational power, and often data lies in tech companies, from SMEs to multinationals, it can be difficult to see how a health system can digitize in an equitable and ethical manner. Maxine’s talk shared some examples of the learnings, attitudes, and practical ways the U.K. has approached data stewardship, partnerships, “intangible assets," and transparency of health data organizations looking to work with the National Health Service. These examples include learnings from DeepMind Health’s Independent Review Board, the use of consumer data in the U.K. for health research, and how the U.K. is approaching some of these discussions at a national, policy level.

Maxine Mackintosh

Maxine is a PhD student at the Alan Turing Institute and University College London’s Institute of Health Informatics. She was in Boston as a Winston Churchill Fellow. Her PhD involves using medical records to uncover early signs of dementia. She is interested in how we might make better use of routinely collected data to inform our understanding of health and diseases. Prior to this, she completed a BSc in Biomedical Sciences (UCL) and an MSc in Health Policy, Planning, and Financing (London School of Economics & Political Science, and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine). In addition, Maxine is the co-founder of One HealthTech — an international, volunteer-led, grassroots community which champions and supports underrepresented groups, particularly women, to be the future leaders in health innovation. Her professional work has led her to the Royal Society, Roche, L’Oreal, Department for International Development, and NHS England. She is part of a number of communities and committees, including the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers and the British Computer Society (Health Exec). Maxine also sat on DeepMind Health’s Independent Review Board and has a particular interest in fair and appropriate partnerships in the NHS.

We hope to see you there!

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