Assistant Professor, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UBC
What social issue does your research attempt to address?
My area of expertise is ‘predictive analytics’ in healthcare. Along the cascade of the delivery of healthcare, there are two major decision-making gateways: policy makers must decide on which health technologies (treatments, medical procedures, bio-markers and diagnostic tests) should be adopted into the healthcare systems, and physicians and patients must decide on which alternative treatments to use. My area of expertise if the quantitative prediction of the outcomes of alternative choices for both policy and clinical decision making.
What drew you to this area of research?
I am a physician by training, but have had a long interest in decision theory, and ultimately decided to pursue a career in this field. During my clinical practice, I felt conflicted between my duty to provide the best care to patients, and to be a gatekeeper for judicious use of our limited healthcare resources. My quest to find a solution led me to the field of decision theory. This theory resolves this conflict by quantifying the opportunity costs of medical decisions, and helps decision makers to make choices that will increase the health of the population over the long run.
What benefits do social sciences bring to genomics research?
The majority of genomics discoveries fail to commercialize, and many of those that do are not efficiently picked up by decision makers and end-users. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research refers to these two gaps as “Death Valleys” in the research-to-practice continuum. Both death valleys require translational research that bridge the gap between the science of genomics (the G) and the social (the E3LS) aspects of implementing health technologies. The science of how to promote, implement, and evaluate genomics-based discoveries are as complex as the science behind the discovery itself. Taking the ‘E3LS’ side is critical for the ‘G’ side to be impactful in the real world.
As someone living and working in British Columbia, what is your favorite thing to do or place to go?
I love watching documentaries (mainly science and history- I admit this one has little to do with being a British Columbian), biking, ice-skating, and amateur astronomy (challenging in BC for a good part of the year!)
What’s on the top of your ‘Bucket List’ right now?
Workwise: Creating an effective knowledge translation platform such that patients, care providers, and policymakers can efficiently use prediction tools towards making more informed decisions.
Life outside work: Visiting Japan!
About Genomics and Society
Genome BC has taken a leadership role in exploring the societal aspects of genomics research. One way we do this is through supporting genomics-related social science and humanities research. This area of research doesn’t just focus on genomic impacts on society once the scientific research is complete . Through collaboration, it also aims to inform on the societal dimension of scientific research questions, research design and funding allocation. This can help genomics research produce social benefits and achieve public value. In the context of Canada’s Genomics Enterprise, this research is referred to as ‘GE3Ls – Genomics and its Environmental, Economic, Ethical, Legal and Social aspects and is distinct from the anticipated socio-economic benefits of the project itself. Learn more about Genomics and Society here.