Editorial Board Q&A: Edward C. Halperin

Edward_HalperinFall_Winter2014
Edward C. Halperin, MD, MA, chancellor and chief executive officer, New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York

1.  Describe your current activities.

I recently completed a detailed study of the impact of off-shore for-profit medical education on the access of U.S. schools to clinical clerkships. The results of this study will be published in an upcoming issue of Academic Medicine. My colleagues and I also recently completed an analysis of material that was alleged to have been ashes from the Dachau concentration camp crematoria. The ashes were brought back to the U.S. by a returning soldier after the war and stored for 60 years by his family. The analysis posed interesting biochemical and ethical issues.

My day job is chancellor and chief executive officer of New York Medical College. We have a school of medicine (MD, MS in Medical Ethics), school of health sciences (MPH, DPH, DPT, MS in Speech Pathology, MS in Biostatistics), and graduate school (MS, PhD). Our application for a new dental school is pending.

I also see patients as a radiation oncologist at Metropolitan Hospital in Harlem and at Westchester Medical Center, just north of New York City.

2. What gaps do you see in today’s scholarship?

Two gaps that come to mind are:

  • The US has a far better system for comparing the safety and efficacy of drug A to drug B than we do for analyzing the safety and efficacy of machine A to machine B. The tremendous personal and societal costs related to the introduction of robotic surgery, proton therapy for cancer, autologous bone marrow transplantation for adult female breast cancer, and pharmacogenetic testing as an alleged adjunct to prescribing drugs all remind us of our need to research and develop better systems for studying machines and technology – much like we have done for studying drugs.
  • We have a far better understanding of the factors in the medical school admissions and education processes that predict success in basic science medical education and performance on standardized tests than we do the factors that predict who will become a good doctor.

3. Why do you read Academic Medicine?

Academic Medicine is the best single source to learn what is new and important about operating the institutional structures for the generation, conservation, and dissemination of knowledge about the causes, prevention, and treatment of human disease and disability.

4. What issues will we be reading about in five years?

I hope we’ll be reading well done studies that demonstrate how technology allows us to:

  • Promote health in a more efficient, humane, and less costly manner, and
  • Educate the next generation of physicians better, faster, smarter, and cheaper.

I fear that we’ll be reading about how technology allows us to do things differently, but we’re not sure if it is better.

5. What book(s) are you reading right now?

I just finished The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning by Jonathan Sacks. Now I am reading The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry, and I am listening in the car to The World Was Never the Same: Events that Changed History by J. R. Fears.

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