Boston University School of Law

Health Law Newsletter Fall 2011

Special Features

A look at BU's Health Policy Institute

Reflecting a university-wide priority of encouraging interdisciplinary study, Boston University’s Health Policy Institute is bringing together experts from around the world and faculty from across the university to engage in collaborative research and analysis of health policy. The institute’s mission is to develop and analyze strategic policy options for improving health care. To do this, it focuses on four core areas of interest:

  • Strategies for improving health care quality, access and affordability
  • Cross-national comparisons of health care systems
  • Evaluation of tools for health care informatics and information systems
  • Organizational transformation in health care

“We want to help make everyone aware of the nature of research that’s going on in different departments and schools across the university, to foster collaboration and to increase the research presence of Boston University,” said Dr. Alan Cohen, executive director of the institute and professor of health policy and management in the BU School of Management.

For example, the institute is coordinating a collaboration between BU and the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, seeking joint funding from external sources for joint research projects and potentially undertaking a faculty and student exchange program.

Over the last two years, BU researchers have been collaborating with their Warwick colleagues in a project to better understand the challenging problems facing the U.S. and U.K. health care systems. In a new effort, they hope to use complexity science theory and social network analysis, among other methods, to explore these issues further. The collaboration involves a broad range of disciplines, including management, medicine, epidemiology, public health, economics, sociology, mathematics, physics and others.

The institute also has relationships with Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, and the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Cohen said the institute can play an important role in enlightening scholars from different disciplines within BU about each other’s work and in enriching their research with each other’s expert perspectives. At least half of BU’s 17 schools are engaged in some form of research into health care, although researchers often work in isolation, unaware of each other’s efforts, he noted.

“Recognizing that so much more can be done to encourage interdisciplinary research, I think we have a responsibility at the university not only to break down silos but also to build bridges among schools and departments,” he said.

The institute draws its fellows from across the university, including from the School of Law.

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