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October 2018 Edition
In this Issue:  Opening Remarks   |  HILS Class Grows in 2018   |   MCBK Comes Together   |   Meet the LHS Journal    |   DLHS Profiles: Sandhu, Hill & Townsend   |  Mentions

Opening Remarks: Charles Friedman, PhD, Department of Learning Health Sciences (DLHS) Chair

Everyone in DLHS is excited about the start of the academic year.  Accordingly, this issue of the The Loop begins by welcoming and describing our nine new students in the Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems (HILS) program. The issue continues by reflecting back on the very successful July meeting, co-sponsored by DLHS and the National Library of Medicine, addressing the important concept of representing biomedical knowledge available as computer code, interpretable by machines, in addition to words and pictures interpretable by humans. 

The Loop continues with a report on the progress of the journal Learning Health Systems, a Michigan-branded journal, edited in DLHS, and published by John Wiley and Sons.  The issue concludes with profiles of three of our personnel: Gurjit Sandhu, mentor for the Masters of Health Professions Education program, who holds a joint appointment to accompany her primary appointment in the Department of Surgery; Beth Hill, who is the manager of the HILS program; and Carena Townsend, our marketing and communications coordinator. And at the very end, check out a picture of our External Advisory Committee which held its first meeting in September.

As with our previous issues, this issue of the The Loop underscores the diversity and excellence of the people in our department and the work they do.

Pictured above: Carol Bradford, MD, Executive Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, Michigan Medicine presents Dr. Friedman with a medal commemorating his Josiah Macy Jr. Professorship in Medical Education at the June 28, 2018 Celebration of Department of Learning Health Sciences and the Josiah Macy Jr. Professorship in Medical Education
Inaugural Roland "Red" Hiss Lectureship
On October 4, 2018 the first annual Roland "Red" Hiss Lectureship, made possible by the Hiss family, hosted David G. Marrero, PhD, Director of the University of Arizona's Center for Health Disparities Research. Dr. Marrero presented a “A lecture in two parts: Roland Hiss; Friend and Mentor & Addressing Diabetes Disparities in Hispanic Populations.”  He spoke about the need to engage Hispanic diabetes patients in their communities rather than in medical centers, consider familial structure and vary forms of care delivery - lessons from Red Hiss that came to him in a "shout rather than a whisper."

Dr. Hiss, a champion of medical education and community-based diabetes prevention care, spent his career at U-M until retiring in 2003. Dr. Marrero took the opportunity to follow his Hiss lecture with a visit to the Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS) in Detroit for a talk on effective communication with diabetes patients.

View photo gallery


Nine New Students Begin HILS Program

The third Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems’ (HILS) class was ushered in on August 31, adding nine new students to take their place among the trailblazers in this first-of-its-kind academic program. HILS focuses on working across health organizations, from local to global, to develop the learning health system model that makes research and implementation a priority in order to continuously improve individual and population health.  
Five master’s students and four PhD students received a welcome from HILS director, Anne Sales PhD, RN, at the event.  The half day included a HILS 411 from Student Affairs Program Manager Beth Hill, followed by a poster session at which faculty and staff Introduced themselves and their research to the incoming class.  Some students also seized the opportunity to take in the view from one of our DLHS office locations high above campus in the North Ingalls Building. 
Students hail from a variety of U.S. and international locales, including Brazil, Minnesota, California and Oregon. Consistent with the profile of HILS students, they also come from a multitude of backgrounds: from Brinda Gokul who worked in health economics at the World Bank in Palestine to Roshan Paudel, MPH, from the American Cancer Society to Ryan Barbaro, MD, MSc a Michigan Medicine assistant professor of pediatrics.  Stephanie Hall, MPH, sums up the attraction to the program that many of our students express as she embarks on a HILS education, “I wanted to study in a department that teaches both how to generate research and how to integrate new evidence into future practice.” 
Some will take advantage of the opportunity to earn their master’s in 12 months while others will settle in for the extended journey of earning their PhD.  In every case, though their individual areas of interest may be diverse, they will all benefit from exploring implementation science approaches via a rigorous and customizable HILS curriculum. Discover how a HILS degree may fit in your career plan today. Applications for the PhD program are due December 1, 2018 and MS applications have a priority deadline of February 1, 2018 with the final deadline on June 1, 2018.
Join us in welcoming all our new HILS students!
Victor Cattani Rentes, BSc, MSc
Stephanie Hall, MPH
Anthony Provenzano, MPA, MSW, MS
Roshan Paudel, MPH
Ryan P. Barbaro, MD, MSc
Brinda Gokul
Catherine Irwin
Jessica Rayo 
Kate Weber

Coming Together to Mobilize Computable Biomedical Knowledge

An energetic meeting of the minds around Mobilizing Computable Biomedical Knowledge (MCBK) took place inside the U.S. National Library of Medicine this past July 10 and 11. Experts from a variety of fields including health informatics, library science, software development and more convened to forward the idea that biomedical data must be shared via an ecosystem designed to make the best new health findings computable, thus readily and widely accessible. 
Expanding on the first MCBK meeting in October 2017, the 150 conference attendees worked on three goals: developing a manifesto that describes how MCBK will positively impact human health; creating an action plan to foster an empowered community around MCBK; and finally defining challenge problems, the solutions to which are necessary to proliferate computable biomedical knowledge.
Over the course of the two days participants interacted over a poster session, panel discussions, and were treated to perspectives from national leaders like Don Rucker, MD, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, Director, National Library of Medicine, and Eric Dishman, Director of the All of Us Research Program, National Institutes of Health. 
Allen Flynn, PhD, PharmD, Assistant Professor of Learning Health Sciences, who took part in the State of the Art in Computable Biomedical Knowledge panel, was inspired by the diverse group in attendance excited about collaborating on the priorities of MCBK saying it “…sets the stage for a new scene in which shared computable biomedical knowledge comes to the fore to propel medical science and improve health faster than ever before.” 
Substantial progress on MCBK was made with the formation of four ongoing working groups charged with addressing: Standards, Technical Infrastructure, Sustainability for Mobility and Inclusion, Policy and Coordination to Ensure Quality and Trust.  A MCBK web presence has been established at the Department of Learning Health Sciences website to provide a digital hub, grow the community, and provide information about upcoming webinars and future MCBK activities including the MCBK 2019 Conference set for July 2019.

Take a look and listen to understand more about just what computable biomedical knowledge is and why it’s so important to mobilize it!

LHS Journal: The Best Publications in Life Are Free 

In order to further the conversation around the growing movement to develop health systems that achieve rapid and continuous improvement in health care, a new online journal was born in January 2017, Learning Health Systems (LHS). Published on the Wiley Online Library platform in collaboration with the University of Michigan and the Department of Learning Health Sciences (DLHS), this open access, peer-reviewed journal is now rounding out its second year and seven issues.

Global in nature, articles in LHS come from all corners of the academic and health care worlds exploring a variety of topics that advance the scholarship, research and concepts which contribute to this transformational way of organizing health care delivery and medical advances. LHS content can take a variety of forms, from research or experience reports to briefs to commentaries to policy analyses. 
LHS may be freely available but submissions still have to meet a high standard for scientific publication and undergo a rigorous blind peer review to ensure an unbiased evaluation of the work.

DLHS Librarian and Interim Director, Taubman Health Sciences Library, Nancy Allee, MLS, MPH serves as Managing Assistant Editor. She stresses the how the journal's editorial team works to cultivate a supportive relationship with authors, and that reviewers are encouraged to provide thoughtful feedback. “That process is intended to be very constructive,” notes Allee who has worked with Editor, Charles P. Friedman, PhD, to shape the journal from its beginning to be an accessible online resource for the growing number of public and private entities investing in creating scalable learning health systems.   
Thus far the journal has had two special issues, one that explored the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) of Learning Health Systems and another on patient empowerment. Instead of restricting the authors to those in scientific fields, the patient empowerment issue also included articles written from the patient perspective. A third special “Data” issue addressing research to practice in Asian countries is upcoming in January 2019, highlighting the learning health system work happening on the other side of the world.
A testament to the open philosophy of the journal, LHS contributors retain the copyright to their accepted material. Authors can submit their writing electronically via the online submission site.


MHPE Mentor Profile: Gurjit Sandhu, PhD

Surgical Education Scientist Gurjit Sandhu,
PhD is one of the dedicated mentors for the Masters of Health Professions Education (MHPE) program, a competency-based program that gives medical professionals the tools to improve their educational leadership and scholarship on their own schedule and in their own work settings.
Even before arriving at the U-M Department of Surgery five years ago from her native Canada, Sandhu was aware of MHPE director Larry Gruppen’s work in medical education.  Armed with a PhD in Education and teaching experiences in Interdisciplinary Studies from Queen’s University in Ontario, her interest in the medical field grew with a position as an Educational Developer for Postgraduate Medical Education at Queen’s.  Once at U-M she reached out to Gruppen.  From there it was a natural fit for her to join the Department of Learning Health Sciences (DLHS) as joint faculty.
As a MHPE mentor, as well as a member of the assessment committee, Sandhu must juggle time zones and draw on a wide range of skills since mentees can come from a variety of medical specialties and locations. Case in point, her two current learners live on opposite coasts and even practice medicine on different species. One is a Geriatrician at Yale University School of Medicine and the other specializes in Clinical Equine Ophthalmology at the University of California-Davis.
With expertise in entrustment (trusting someone with a responsibility), teaching methods and assessment, Sandhu occupies a unique niche that relates well to the MHPE student experience. As a Surgical Education Scientist, she not only researches how the teaching and learning dynamic between surgeon and resident works, but then also devises strategies for those surgeon/instructors to implement – it’s a learning cycle similar to the mentees’ activities.
“I like that it’s learner-centered, learner-driven, so the learner can develop themselves according to their goal,” says Sandhu who must map a timeline with each mentee to achieve a balance between work demands and the mentee’s Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs). 
The balance in Sandhu’s off-hours comes from spending time with her husband and two children, often at an ice rink.  Her son and daughter both play hockey, keeping the family’s Canadian culture alive in Ann Arbor.
Gurjit Sandhu, PhD is Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, Assistant Professor of Learning Health Sciences, Surgical Education Specialist.

The MHPE program is looking for qualified mentors. Interested faculty should contact Dawn Harris at

DLHS Profile: Beth Hill, MA is Here to Help

For the students in the Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems (HILS) graduate programs, Beth Hill is their willing guide.  As Student Affairs Program Manager for the MS and PhD programs she shepherds students through the nuances of U-M degree requirements, cues them into university resources and even may provide the occasional pep talk.
Hill has a variety of U-M experience to pull from, previously holding academic advisor and student services management roles in the LSA Program in the Environment and the School for Environment and Sustainability. Then came a 12-year detour into business administration. When the HILS job came up, she was ready to return to making those meaningful student connections that came with it. 

In November Hill will celebrate her first year as a part of DLHS’ educational programs team. She loves that a HILS education can help tackle real-world problems based on the student’s interest. “One student is working on improving Electronic Health Record implementation in Malawi and another is dealing with a protocol for hemorrhages in birthing women,” explains Hill.  “We are still so new,” she notes excitedly. “This degree will give you the tools to solve the problems that you see in healthcare on micro and macro levels.”
Hill came to U-M from Marshall, Michigan for her undergrad degree, stayed to earn her MA in Higher Education Administration, and never left. An avid sports fan, she’s a regular attender at U-M athletics events including U-M football.  She jokes, “Bo Schembechler recruited me!”
At home Hill has a demanding roommate, her cat Rosalind. She’s also the treasurer of the Friends of Rutherford Pool foundation. Ypsilanti Mayor Amanda Edmunds recruited her for that role, their acquaintance having begun years ago when the mayor was a student advised by Hill.

Beth Hill, MA is Student Affairs Program Manager.

DLHS Profile: Carena Townsend, MS, On a Mission to Grow our Programs

Carena Townsend, Recruitment and Marketing Coordinator for the Department of Learning Health Sciences (DLHS), is a woman on the move.  She travels frequently to promote the virtues of the Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems (HILS) program to potential students at conferences and graduate school recruitment fairs across the United States.
A born and raised Ann Arborite, Townsend’s love for travel has taken her outside the city’s boundaries on multiple occasions, first to obtain her BS in Psychology from Michigan State University which led to role in at the U-M Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Later she chose to go abroad to earn her Masters in International Business from the University of Economics in Prague, Czech Republic. While in Europe she took advantage of another opportunity to spend a semester studying in Hong Kong where she made lasting friendships with other students from around the globe. 
Still, with two young siblings, the lure of home was strong and Townsend returned to Ann Arbor where she landed at DLHS. In her previous role at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions Townsend appreciated meeting with prospective students, something she gets to do on the recruiting end of her current job. That, plus the promise of utilizing her marketing skills in a new academic program, was a big draw to her DLHS role. “I’ve enjoyed the challenge of creating the HILS recruitment and marketing plan.” Says Townsend who added, “I wrote my master’s thesis on marketing so I was interested in expanding that experience.”
Townsend’s job not only supports HILS but the other education programs as well, calling on her to do a variety of publicity work, give presentations, design programs and flyers, and perform countless website updates for the department as a whole. That variety is a boost for Townsend who says the best part of her job is that not every day is the same. 
In her free time, you can find Townsend tearing up the soccer field, serving as membership chair for the Jaycees, hanging out with her brother, sister and Golden Retriever or in her new condo planning the next international trip, perhaps to Peru.

Carena Townsend, MS, is Recruitment and Marketing Coordinator.


DLHS Now Has an External Advisory Committee: David H. Roberts, MD - Harvard Medical School; Barbara, E. Barnes, MD, MS - University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Lucy A. Savitz, PhD, MBA - Kaiser Permanente; Robyn Tamblyn BScN, MSc, PhD - McGill University; Peter J. Embi, MD, MS, FACP, FACMI - Indiana University


Congratulations to longtime faculty member and former Department of Medical Education chair Larry Gruppen, PhD who will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in Medical Education at the U-M Medical School Dean's Award Dinner on November 15.

Celebrating four years of the Department of Learning Health Sciences.  On June 28th, 2018 leaders from the U-M Medical School and Health System came together with DLHS faculty and staff to celebrate the department’s accomplishments under chair Dr. Charles Friedman, Josiah Macy Jr. Professor of Medical Education.  Get a glimpse of the evening's events at the Michigan League.

Learning Health for Michigan (LH4M)  As an extension of work begun in 2013 to create a learning health system at the state level, The Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation (CHRT) issued a new paper in September,  Learning Health for Michigan: The Path Forward. The piece describes the progress made by LH4M to advance the learning health community infrastructure in Michigan and the challenges that remain to reduce health care costs, re-hospitalizations and improve patient care.

Save The Date...

November 9, 2018 - ELSI-LHS Returns  
The 3rd Annual Symposium on the Ethical Legal and Social Implications of Learning Health Systems (ELSI-LHS) will address “The Learning Health System in Practice.” The daylong event held in Palmer Commons will focus on use cases and lessons learned from emerging learning health systems and learning health system technologies locally, in the state of Michigan, and across the US to address chronic diseases such as cancer. Special emphasis will be placed on themes and issues arising in previous symposia such as trust, systems ethics, equity. Look for registration info and the call for posters at or on the DLHS Service and Outreach webpage.  
Giving Blue Day is November 27, 2018.  Venture into the Clinical Simulation Center to experience the life-saving impact of a donation made to our Clinical Simulation Simulator Fund from the students' point of view.

Revolutionizing Learning, Transforming Health

The Department of Learning Health Sciences advances the sciences that make learning effective, routine, and scalable, from individuals up to systems that span states and nations.

The Loop is published three times per academic calendar year by the University of Michigan Department of Learning Health Sciences.

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Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2054

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