MIT Sloan Health Systems Initiative

2020 Healthcare Certificate Spotlight

Health Certificate Ceremony held on May 27, 2020

Given that MIT, like other universities, cancelled in-person graduations this year, graduates, professors, HSI board members and friends convened via videoconference. Director of HSI and Senior Lecturer Anne Quaadgras, one of the three Certificate Committee members, moderated the ceremony. “We don’t have many of the things we usually have at this ceremony, but hopefully many of you have a beverage and we can do a virtual toast!”

Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Master’s Programs, Jacob Cohen kicked off the festivities commenting, “I can’t imagine a more important year to think about healthcare and health.” He congratulated the recipients and wished them “a lot of luck because we need you to bring solutions to bear” on the challenges of the pandemic.  “MIT is known for tackling big problems and bringing knowledge to bear on those great challenges”, he continued, “and I can’t think of a greater challenge than the one we have now.”

HSI Faculty Director and Sloan Management Professor of Applied Economics, Joseph Doyle, concurred. He added that the Sloan School has been thinking about these kinds of problems of health outcomes and investments for a while and now there seems to be some political will, and certainly the need, to address these issues. 

Richard Cohen, MD, Professor of Biomedical Engineering is one of the creators of the MIT Healthcare Certificate, whose original goal was to provide an interdisciplinary education and training for students interested in entrepreneurial biomedical companies. “It’s a unique program”, he commented, that “combines medicine, biomedical science, economics and health care delivery”. He lauded the graduates for undertaking the medical and scientific issues in epidemics and echoed the earlier speakers saying it couldn’t be a better time for this training.

While the students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, many came to similar conclusions about what they appreciated most from the program. Whether they originally brought a clinical perspective or a corporate focus or an entrepreneurial lens, they commented that what they have now is a big picture of how healthcare works as a complex, multifaceted system. One of the students, who caught the excitement of innovative start-ups, said that the courses that make up the Certificate tied all the aspects of the field together and forced him to think about how to make it better. One woman who came from corporate was taken by action learning and wants to work on how to make healthcare more accessible to everyone. A third who works in translational medicine appreciated that she can now see the bigger picture.

Wherever these 12 end up, all are convinced that they have the training to make meaningful contributions. Congratulations to all the graduates!