Jian Feng, Patricia Ohtake, Steven Lipshultz.

Forward Thinking

No one can say for sure which issues will be front and center in health care in 25 years, when the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences marks its 200th anniversary.

Experts in medicine and the biomedical sciences, however, are trained to think ahead and anticipate the shifting landscape of knowledge, both practical and theoretical, in order to help prepare society for challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Here you will read a series of essays written by some of our school’s top faculty experts who have been asked to address a variety of topics germane to society today and to ponder how these issues will evolve over the next 25 years.

Many topics and experts are not included here, but we hope these essays will help set a tone of open and shared inquiry as we look to a future in which academic medicine will play an increasingly important role in efforts to improve the health and well-being of populations worldwide.

We begin with an overview essay by Nancy Nielsen, MD ’76, PhD, senior associate dean for health policy and clinical professor of medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She is a former president of the American Medical Association.

–S. A. Unger, editor

  • Health Policy
    Health policy decisions underpin the structure and function of any health care system. They determine how and where care is delivered, what is encouraged or discouraged, how care is paid for, and who benefits in the high-tech, innovative and entrepreneurial environment that makes up our current health care enterprise.
  • Health Disparities
    Good health is not shared equally among the residents of the United States, New York State, and metropolitan Buffalo. African American, Latinx and indigenous populations, in addition to economically disadvantaged individuals of all races and ethnicities, experience striking health disparities.
  • Medical Education
    Medical education is both art and science and requires the intentional application of evidence to deliver an excellent program. The goal of medical education extends beyond supporting students in mastering essential knowledge and skills; it seeks to develop future physicians who serve our communities, advocate for patients, are leaders in research and health care, and provide outstanding patient-centered care.
  • Team-Based Health Care
    While advances in biomedical technology will continue beyond our imagination, the delivery of care by talented health care professionals who are highly skilled in team-based care is the essential ingredient for the translation of those advances into positive health outcomes for people with illness, injury and chronic diseases.
  • Behavioral Medicine
    The primary model in our current health care system is to take care of people after they become sick and need medical care. Given that many chronic diseases can be prevented with changes in behavior, the next stage in medical care is to have a greater emphasis on healthy behaviors.
  • Biomedical Informatics
    Biomedical informatics is the field of medicine that deals with the representation, use, analysis and prediction of health information. Subfields include bioinformatics and health informatics, which includes public health informatics, clinical informatics (a new board-certified medical subspecialty), biomedical ontology, imaging informatics and human-factors engineering for health.
  • The Impact of Stem Cells
    The isolation of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) by Martin Evans in 1981 ushered in a new era of biomedical research. It enabled investigators to study the function of any gene in a mouse. Almost 40 years of mouse research has cured many mouse diseases that are used to model the human versions, from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Precision Medicine and Precision Diagnostics
    What if every medical decision always resulted in the best outcome for every patient? This, of course, is a cherished dream of all patients and medical practitioners.
  • Surgical Training
    Thirty years ago, it seemed so simple to teach the art of surgery. There were a few basic tools: knife, clamps, forceps, retractor and the Bovie cautery. We would see one, then do one, then teach one.
  • Pediatric Medicine
    Our country’s 75 million school-aged children are an abundant treasure. While only 24 percent of the population, they are 100 percent of our future. Their future will be our legacy.
  • Maternal Mortality
    The United States has one of the best and most expensive health care systems in the world, yet the maternal mortality rate (MMR) is rising and significantly higher than that of other developed countries.
  • Biomedical Ethics
    Biomedical ethics is a young, evolving field. The discipline as we now recognize it took shape in the mid-20th century as advances in the scientific foundation of medicine resulted in new dilemmas that were not strictly biomedical. Rather, these quandaries required a shared perspective that drew upon the humanities and social sciences.
  • Gender Disparities in Academic Medicine
    We in academic medicine have known for some time that inherited social inequities prevent us from keeping our fundamental pledge to do no harm. We have, even if unwittingly, harmed people and stymied our own aspiration for excellence by ignoring the systematic disenfranchisement of certain populations.