Division of Health Policy and Insurance Research (HPI) - Seminars

Pharmaceutical Policy Research Seminar (PPRS) Schedule

Time: Noon - 1:00 PM
Date: Seminars are usually held the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month with some exceptions - Please refer to the schedule for exact dates.
Location:  Department of Population Medicine (DPM) Inui Conference Room A/B, Landmark Center, 401 Park Drive, Suite 401 East, Boston, MA 02215


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Click here to view the background on the seminars


September 14, 2016

"Health Reform in China, Health Financing, Access to Medicines and Universal Health Coverage"

Please Note the Harvard PPRS will not take place this day.
In lieu of today's PPRS, you are invited to attend Dr. Ye Lu's presentation
1:00 - 2:00 p.m. located at the
Boston University School of Public Health, Department of Global Health
801 Massachusetts Avenue, (Room L112)
Boston, MA
Ye Lu, PhD                                                                                                                       
Professor of Health Economics                                                                                         
Director of the Department of Health Economics
School of Public Health
Fudan University                                                    
Lu Ye is director of the Department of Health Economics, School of Public Health at Fudan University, China. She is a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Policies and Management. She is also a member of Advisory Committee, the center of drug pricing evaluation for the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), as well as being an executive committee member of the China Network of Training & Research in Health Economics and Financing in the Ministry of Health (MOH). She has been a short-term consultant on e-learning in China for the World Bank. Her main research fields include the burden of disease, economic evaluation of health intervention program, drug pricing policy, and national essential medicine policy. She has worked in 20 research projects as principal investigator, with funding from the National Social Science Foundation, WHO, MOH, NDRC, and Shanghai Bureau of Health, as well as others.The study on essential medicine policy in China was funded by MOH, WHO, and UNDP, this project was one of nine projects which are reverent to new health care reform. The research findings and policy suggestion became very important reference in formulated new health care reforms. Her monograph, titled The Study on Essential Medicines Policy in China, was published in 2009. She worked in the Department of Essential Medicine and Pharmaceutical policy, WHO in Geneva as a visiting scholar in 2009. During that period, she has written a chapter of the World Medicines Situation titled Medicines Expenditures, which was published by the World Health Organization in August 2011. She has published more than 40 papers on domestic peer-reviewed journal as a first author or correspondent author since 2002.



September 28, 2016

"FDA Regulation, Innovation, and the 21st Century Cures Act"

Aaron S. Kesselheim, M.D., J.D., M.P.H.
Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School
Director, Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL)
Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Boston, MA
To read Dr. Kesselheim's bio:

Seminar Description:

In 2015, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act to promote approval of innovative drugs, and this year the Senate has provided preliminary approval to certain provisions in it. We will review some of the proposals in the bill and evidence about their possible impact.

October 12, 2016

"Reducing Readmissions in High Risk Populations: Designing Approaches for the Most Challenging Patients

Dennis Ross-Degnan, ScD

Associate Professor, Department of Population Medicine
Harvard Medical School & Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute

Seminar Description:

CMS has publicly reported readmission rates since 2009 and instituted financial penalties for hospitals with higher than expected readmission rates in 2012.  With added pressure for greater financial risk sharing, this has focused hospitals' attention on improving care transitions. Most interventions to date have targeted elderly Medicare patients or those with high risk diagnoses, such as heart failure. Key groups of challenging patients have been underrepresented, including non-elderly patients, non-English speakers, the homeless, or patients with substance abuse or mental health problems. This presentation will discuss the findings from a series of studies to reduce re-admissions in a small integrated safety net health care system, as well as the design of an intervention targeting multi-morbid patients with serious mental illness in a large national hospital system.

Background reading:

Balaban RB, Galbraith AA, Burns ME, Vialle-Valentin CE, Larochelle MA, Ross-Degnan

A Patient Navigator Intervention to Reduce Hospital Readmissions Among High-Risk Safety-Net Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial. JGIM 2015;30(7):907-15.



October 26, 2016

"Cancer Treatment in Low and Middle Income Countries - Opportunities and Challenges"

Anita K. Wagner, PharmD, MPH, DrPH
Associate Professor, Population Medicine                                                                    

Harvard Medical School & Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute



November 09, 2016

Health and Economic Burden of Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorders

Tara Lavelle, PhD
Assistant Professor

Tufts Medical Center Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies Investigator at the Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health

Tara Lavelle is an Assistant Professor at the Tufts Medical Center Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies and an Investigator at the Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health.  Her research addresses a range of topics related to the value of health care services delivered in the United States. Dr. Lavelle is particularly interested in advancing the use of comparative and cost-effectiveness research in pediatric populations. Previous work includes the development of novel methods for evaluating health and economic outcomes of childhood illness, and assessing preference-based quality of life outcomes in caregivers. Tara earned her PhD in Health Policy with a concentration in Decision Science from Harvard University in 2012 and was previously a postdoctoral research fellow in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit in the Division of General Pediatrics at the University of Michigan.

November 30, 2016

"Outcomes-based Pharmaceutical Contracting – Moving from Paying for Pills to Paying for Value"

Michael S. Sherman, MD, MBA, MS, CPE, FACPE
Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Seminar Description:

Will discuss impact of rising pharmaceutical costs and efforts by health plans to address by moving towards performance based reimbursement.


December 14, 2016



"An Investor's Perspective on Access to Medicine: an action plan for a Global Health Study"
John Schaetzl
Chair, Supervisory Board
Access to Medicine Foundation

John Schaetzl chairs the Supervisory Board of the Access to Medicine Foundation, is the lead Director for SustainAbility.com an Associate at Meteos.org.UK and  advises governments, foundations  venture capital and institutional fund managers on investments which support sustainable outcomes in global health access, clean energy and economic development in emerging markets. 

John retired from General Electric Asset management after a decade of healthcare investing. Prior to that he was an executive with Bayer Pharmaceuticals, a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry and a University teacher and administrator. John is the co-author of Practical Politics and American Government (MacMillan) and Project 18: Effectively Educating Young Voters (Edinburg). He holds an honors degree from Harvard College and an MA in government from the University of Pennsylvania. 


Background readings:

Access to Medicine Index 2016


Sustainability: Making our future the cause of the present



December 21, 2016



"The Outcomes and Costs of Cancer Recurrence"

Michael Hassett, MD, MPH                                                                                          

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School                                          

Attending Physician, Medical Oncology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Dr. Michael Hassett is a medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He works in the Division of Population Sciences conducting health services research focused on quality, disparities, costs, and outcomes. Also, he works in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers caring for patients with breast cancer; and as the Medical Director for Clinical Information Systems he develops clinical information system innovations to improve care quality and outcomes.


Seminar Description:

Most tumor registries do not capture information about cancer recurrence; they only report on the experiences of patients with de novo stage IV metastatic disease. Patients with recurrent cancer may differ from patients with stage IV metastatic disease. During the seminar, I will describe a series of algorithms that we created to identify patients who have recurrent breast, lung or colorectal cancer using claims and EHR data. Using these tools, I will explain the contribution of recurrence to cancer-related mortality and contrast costs for patients with recurrent vs. stage IV metastatic disease


January 18, 2017

"A Structured Approach to Oncologist-Led Serious Illness Conversations: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial"

Susan Block, MD
Director, Serious Illness Care Program
Ariadne Labs
Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Dr. Susan D. Block, MD is the Director of the Serious Illness Care Program at Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health care innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She served as the Founding Chair of the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Founding Director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care. Dr. Block received her AB from Stanford University, her MD from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and completed residencies in both internal medicine and psychiatry at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston.  She is board-certified in both fields.  Dr. Block has been a national leader in the development of the field of palliative medicine, has led major innovative educational and quality improvement projects in a variety of areas, is known internationally as an expert in medical education, faculty development, and health system change, and has contributed to research in medical education, palliative care, psychooncology, and health system change.  She is the author of over 200 publications and has won numerous awards for education, research and leadership.

Seminar Description:

In this presentation, I will describe the impact of a multi-component intervention on the well-being of patients with serious illness,  demonstrating that a brief clinician communication training program, coupled with tools and work flow changes,  can assure nearly universal access to high-quality serious illness conversations and significantly enhance patient well-being.

January 25, 2017

"Value and Cancer Care: an ASCO Approach"

Lowell E. Schnipper, MD                                                                                           

Theodore W. and Evelyn G. Berenson Professor, Medicine, Harvard Medical School Chief, Hematology/Oncology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Clinical Director, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Cancer Center

Seminar Description:

The talk will review initiatives ASCO has undertaken on behalf of the oncology community to address the high costs of cancer care and develop a model framework that can be adapted to assess value of cancer therapies. This will encompass:

  • Incorporating cost into discussions between physicians and patients
  • "financial toxicity” associated with cancer therapies and its consequences
  • comparisons between model frameworks developed by ASCO and others to assess value of cancer treatments

Background readings:




February 08, 2017

"Overview of OptumLabs Cancer Research Collaborative"

Henry Henk, PhD                                                                                                                                                                                                  Vice President of Research, OptumLabs                                                                                        

Dr. Henry (Joe) Henk joined OptumLabs as Vice President of Research in January 2016.  Joe specializes in health economics, econometrics, and health outcomes with particular expertise in econometric methods for working with observational data.  Prior to joining OptumLabs, Joe served as Principal Consultant and Head of Optum’s Health Economics and Outcomes Research unit.  Joe earned his PhD in population health from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s of Science in applied statistics from the University of Minnesota.  He currently serves as the executive sponsor and senior scientist working with the American Cancer Society, OptumLabs senior scientist to Stand Up to Cancer, and is co-leading the development of the OptumLabs Cancer Research Collaborative.


Seminar Description:

OptumLabs partners, including the American Cancer Society, Mayo Clinic, and Stand Up To Cancer, are vested accelerating cancer research, innovation and translation by giving our partners access to the largest U.S. linked patient database, bringing together world class thought leaders and the power of multi-partner collaboration.  This seminar will provide an overview of OptumLabs and formation of the OptumLabs Cancer Research Collaborative, and current and future data assets that may be used for cancer research.

Background reading:



March 08, 2017

Tentative title: Disparities and mental health services

Benjamin Lê Cook, Ph.D. M.P.H.
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Director, Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research/Health Equity Research Lab
Cambridge Health Alliance
Cambridge, MA

Seminar Description:


March 15, 2017

Title: TBD

Christine Leopold, PhD                                                                                           

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow                                                                                  

Department of Population Medicine                                                                             

Harvard Medical School & Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute


Seminar Description:


March 22, 2017

Decolonization: The Road to Change

Susan S. Huang, MD, MPH
Professor, Infectious Disease School of Medicine
Medical Director, Epidemiology and Infection Prevention
University of California, Irvine

Susan Huang, MD MPH is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Health Policy Research Institute at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, and the Medical Director of Epidemiology and Infection Prevention at UC Irvine Health. She received her MD degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and her MPH degree from the Harvard School of Public Health in Quantitative Methods. She completed her residency at the University of California San Francisco and her ID fellowship at the combined Harvard program at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Huang’s research focus is on the prevention of healthcare-associated infections. She has over 130 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Her clinical epidemiologic research has a major focus on multi-drug resistant organisms - identifying the population and environmental burden, risk factors for acquisition and disease, and preventative strategies for containment. Dr. Huang is the lead investigator of several randomized clinical trials on preventing MRSA disease and other healthcare-associated infections. She also has collaborations to study the regional prevention of MDROs in hospitals and nursing homes through simulation models and public health initiatives. Additional significant areas of research include surgical site infections, outbreak detection, and electronic efficiencies for infection prevention.


Seminar Description:

This seminar will focus on the drivers and obstacles impacting the translation of a major infection prevention strategy that reduces healthcare associated infections and antibiotic-resistant bacteria into best practice in the ICU and elsewhere in the healthcare system.

April 12,


Title: TBD

Mark Fendrick, MD                                                                                                      

Professor, Division of General Medicine

Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Health Management and Policy                                                      

Director, University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design

Seminar Description:


April 26,


Drug Prices in the US: Trends, Driving Factors and Implications

Enrique Seoane-Vazques, PhD                                                                              

Director, International Center for Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy             

Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Business and Administrative Sciences                                                                                                     

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences


Seminar Description:


May 10,


Title: TBD

Mara Horwitz, MD                                                                                                      

Research Fellow                                                                                                    

Department of Population Medicine                                                                                     

Harvard Medical School & Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute

Seminar Description:


May 24,


Title: TBD

Arthur Hong, MD                                                                                                           

Research Fellow                                                                                                     

Department of Population Medicine                                                                          

Harvard Medical School & Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute


Seminar Description: