HPI News


Associate Professor Anita Wagner was chosen to become a Visiting Scholar at The Hastings Center, where she will conduct independent research in the area of bioethics. She begins her two-week residency in early August. 

Research Fellow Mara Murray Horwitz was awarded The Best Women's Health Scientific Abstract Oral Presentation Award by the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) for her presentation, "Timing of Contraceptive Initiation and Family Planning Relative to Sexual Initiation Among Young Woman in the US, 1984-2015". This award recognizes the most highly rated Women's Health oral abstract presentations at the SGIM Annual Meeting, which took place in April. Congratulations, Mara! Here’s a complete list of the SGIM award winners.

Anita Wagner and Alessandra Ferrario participated in a meeting at SickKids Hospital in Toronto to discuss collaboration opportunities for improving access to medicines for pediatric cancer in low- and middle-income countries. This collaboration builds on priorities identified at the Pediatric Oncology Roundtable to Transform Access to Global Essentials (PORTAGE), which took place in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE) in January 2018. Despite advances in treatment of childhood cancer and high rates of survival in high income countries, there is poor and variable survival in low- and middle-income countries, where most children with cancer live. Improving access to medicines is a key component in strengthening health care systems to improve health outcomes of children with cancer worldwide. 

Anita Wagner will be among the distinguished speakers at the Charite BIH Entrepreneurship Summit 2018: From Vision to Patient, sponsored by the Berlin Institute of Health. Dr. Wagner will take part in the Novel Funding Models / Affordability of Medication session, on the panel titled When Markets Fail Patients.

Christine Lu will present her work in the field of genetics and genomics at the 2018 ACMG Annual Clinical Genetics Meeting. Her talk, "Learning Healthcare Systems: A New Paradigm for Generating Evidence and Developing Clinical Practice Guidelines for Clinical Genetic and Genomic Medicine", will take place on April 13th. 

Fellow Mara Murray-Horwitz will present at the 2018 Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) Annual Meeting, held in Denver, CO. Her talk is entitled, "Time-to-contraception: patterns and predictors among U.S. women, 1970-2015".

Dennis Ross-Degnan and Anita Wagner will moderate/speak about pharmaceutical research and development in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) on April 23rd at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. Dr. Wagner's talk is entitled, "Approaches to Improving Access to Innovative Medicines". 

HPI Director Frank Wharam will travel to Groningen, Netherlands, to present findings at Ca-PRI 2018: Building Bridges on April 20th. His talk is entited "Impact of High-Deductible Insurance on Breast Cancer Care Among Lower-Income Women". 

The ASCO Post Evening News March 19th newsletter featured the paper, "Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment after High-Deductible Insurance Enrollment". The paper, which resulted from work conducted by HPI faculty Frank Wharam, Fang Zhang, Christine Lu, Anita Wagner, Stephen Soumerai, and Dennis Ross-Degnan, was originally published in in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. 

HPI faculty and collaborators from Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research had recent work published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The paper, titled "Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment after High-Deductible Insurance Enrollment", was the result of work conducted by Frank Wharam, Fang Zhang, Christine Lu, Anita Wagner, Stephen Soumerai, Dennis Ross-Degnan, Larissa Nekhlyudov, and Craig Earle. The study found that women who were switched to high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) experienced delays in breast cancer diagnostic testing, early-stage diagnosis, and chemotherapy initiation. 

February brought a number of HPI faculty publications, including studies in CMAJ Open (by Natasha Stout), Psychiatric Services (by Christine Lu), JAMA Internal Medicine (by Natasha Stout), and Current Diabetes Reports (by Dennis Ross-Degnan and Frank Wharam).

On February 8th, Anita Wagner presented "Expanding a Portfolio of Health Systems Research on Cancer Therapeutics" to the Department of Population Medicine. This talk detailed progress made as a result of her Robert H. Ebert Career Development Award

We welcome back Anita Wagner from Singapore, where she gave two talks, including the keynote, at the Asian Bioethics Review Research Conference on "The Ethics of Universal Coverage: Towards a Holistic Framework for Access to High-Cost Medical Interventions"

Members of the NEXTD-2 project, Frank Wharam, Fang ZhangStephen Soumerai, Christine Lu, Dennis Ross-Degnan, and DPM alumna Emma Eggleston, have a new publication in February's issue of Diabetes Care Journal. The manuscript, "Effect of High-Deductible Insurance on High-Acuity Outcomes in Diabetes: A Natural Experiment for Translation in Diabetes (NEXT-D) Study", is based on work on the original NEXT-D project. 

Mei-Sing Ong was appointed to the Harvard Medical School faculty as an Assistant Professor of Population Medicine in January. We look forward to her future successes!

Mei-Sing Ong will present at the 12th Annual Pulmonary Vascular Research Institute (PVRI) Annual World Congress on PVD in Singapore in January. Her presentation, "Comorbidity-driven taxonomy of paediatric pulmonary hypertension", is part of Plenary 3, "Towards a molecular classification of PH", The American Heart Association Partnership with PVRI. The full agenda of events can be found online.


Spotlight on Steve Soumerai

Stephen Soumerai Presentation Australia









Our very own Steve Soumerai spent much of October and November giving a series of talks to Asian and Australian scientists, government officials, and postdoctoral students.  The general topics included:

  • The ongoing flip-flopping of research findings about the effects of medical or health policies and confusion among the general public, clinicians, and policy makers;
  • The effects of poorly designed studies and common biases, combined with widespread media reporting, on the decisions of policy makers—leading them to fund ineffective, costly, or even harmful policies;
  • Strong quasi-experimental and randomized designs that provide more trustworthy evidence;
  • The worldwide proliferation of financial incentives to providers intended to improve the quality of care that are contradicted by rigorous research (but are nonetheless increasing).

Venues for these talks included: the opening address and advanced methodological sessions at the International Society of Pharmacoepidemiology 10th Asian Conference on Pharmacoepidemiology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, the University of New South Wales (2 university-wide talks), and the University of Sydney (university-wide talk). The PowerPoint slides for these talks are available in the links directly above.

Click here to read Dr. Soumerai and Dr. Koppel’s new Washington Post op-ed entitled “How bad science can lead to bad science journalism—and bad policy: This is what happens when news organizations don’t catch lousy studies”.

Christine Leopold and Anita Wagner are co-authors of a recently paper by Steve Morgan in the Canadian Medical Association Journal entitled "Drivers of expenditure on primary care prescription drugs in 10 high-income countries with universal health coverage". The paper has been featured by the Commonwealth Fund. A commentary can be found here.

Laura Garabedian will now co-direct the Division's Fellowship in Health Policy and Insurance Research (formerly the Pharmaceutical Policy Research Fellowship). Laura takes over the co-directorship from Steven Soumerai who, together with Dennis Ross-Degnan, created highly successful fellowship program more than 15 years ago. Since 2001, the Fellowship program has trained 42 fellows and 5 visiting scholars from 16 countries.

Among her many credentials, Laura is an alumna of the Fellowship, which she started while a PhD student in the Harvard University-wide PhD Program in Health Policy.  She now teaches in the PhD Program and serves on the Committee on Higher Degrees in Health Policy at Harvard University.  Laura will help expand the Fellowship program and specifically the long-standing, fruitful engagement with students in the PhD Program in Health Policy. The division thanks Steve for co-creating and co-leading the Fellowship for all these years, and Laura for co-directing (with Anita Wagner) the Fellowship in Health Policy and Insurance Research going forward.

Anita Wagner has been offered a position as a Fellow in Bioethics in the Fellowship in Bioethics at Harvard Medical School for the academic year 2017-2018.  The Fellowship in Bioethics is a 1-year part-time course of study to further one's knowledge of the history, philosophical underpinnings and contemporary practice of bioethics.  Anita plans to focus her bioethics scholarship on ethical questions in cancer care. Her participation in the program is made possible by the Department's Robert H. Ebert Career Development Award.

Christine Lu was selected to present at the Thirteenth Workshop on Costs and Assessment in Psychiatry: Mental Health Policy and Economics, which took place in Venice, Italy in March. Her presentation was entitled, "Near Real-Time Surveillance for Consequences of Health Policies Using Sequential Analysis".

Stephen Soumerai was a guest on The Healthcare Policy Podcast to discuss Pay for Performance (P4P). The episode, "Does Pay for Performance Improve Care and Lower Spending? An Interview with Stephen Soumerai" is available online here.

Scott Hadland was recently selected as one of three winners of JAMA Pediatrics contest for the best paper by a trainee as first author. Criteria for selection included rigorous metrics similar to those used in assessing R grants: Significance, Innovation, and Design and Analysis. Dr. Hadland is an adolescent medicine and addiction specialist and is currently an Assistant Professor at Boston University School of Medicine. The winning paper, entitled “Trends in Receipt of Buprenorphine and Naltrexone for Opioid Use Disorder Among Adolescents and Young Adults, 2000-2014”, involved collaboration with Frank Wharam, Fang Zhang, and Marc LaRochelle.

Frank Wharam's abstract,“Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment before and after High-deductible Insurance Enrollment”, was chosen for a plenary presentation at the Cancer and Primary Care Research International Network (Ca-PRI) 2017 meeting in April in Edinburgh, Scotland.


Natasha Stout was elected to the Board of Officers, Trustees, and Staff of the Society for Medical Decision Making. Dr. Stout began her three-year term as SMDM Secretary-Treasurer in 2016.