Press Releases

2005 Releases

$500,000 MacArthur 'Genius' Grant Awarded to Sue Goldie, Physician and Researcher Who Applies Decision Science to Global Women's Health

Sue Goldie (goldie.jpg)

For immediate release:  September 20, 2005

Boston, MA -- Public health researcher Dr. Sue Goldie, Associate Professor of Health Decision Science at Harvard School of Public Health, has been awarded a $500,000 MacArthur grant "for genius and creativity" in applying the tools of decision science to evaluate the clinical benefits, public health impact, and cost-effectiveness of alternative preventive and treatment interventions for viruses that are major public health problems.

Goldie develops and validates computer-based models linking the basic biology of a disease and its epidemiology to outcomes in large populations. Her focus in the last several years has been on three viruses of major public health importance: HIV, hepatitis, and the human papilloma virus (HPV). Collectively, these three viruses --together with the conditions they lead to (AIDS, liver cancer and cervical cancer, respectively) - are responsible for an enormous burden of disease, have a substantial impact on quality of life, are associated with both high medical and societal costs, and represent important public health challenges for low, middle and upper income countries.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today named 25 new MacArthur Fellows for 2005 including Dr. Goldie. Information on the MacArthur Fellow Program can be found at: http://www.macfound.org/

In recent years Goldie has concentrated her effort on identifying effective and cost-effective strategies to reduce the burden of cervical cancer, the most common cause of cancer death in women worldwide. She has adapted her biological disease model of HPV to a range of epidemiological settings in order to address the most relevant questions for cervical cancer control in different parts of the world. Her work has informed cervical cancer screening guidelines in several countries, has contributed to timely policy issues and debates in the national and international arena around the potential of HPV vaccination, and has catalyzed key changes in how public health leaders approach screening in the poorest countries.

For example, she has conducted several landmark analyses showing the promise of screening women once or twice in their lifetime using HPV DNA testing or simple visual screening methods followed by treatment of precancerous lesions.   In comparison to conventional Pap smears, these strategies rely on fewer visits, can be delivered by nonphysicians, and offer cost-effective and more sustainable options for resource-poor settings. In short, they have the potential to cut cervical cancer deaths globally by one-third. Goldie and colleagues have applied their work internationally, including modeling of HPV vaccination in Costa Rica, and development of effective cervical health screening policies in a wide range of countries including Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, India, Peru, Haiti, Brazil and Tanzania.

The mathematical models she constructs differ from many models used for cost-effectiveness analysis in that they are "biologically-based," hewing closely to the underlying disease process as it unfolds, while remaining consistent with observed epidemiological data. They extend information available from observational studies by extrapolating patterns beyond the time horizon of a single study, and can be used to evaluate strategies in a wide range of settings. In addition to relating biological and clinical information, they can provide quantitative insight into the relative importance of different components of the prevention or treatment process and allow investigation of how results will change if values of key parameters are varied. By identifying the most influential parameters she can identify key information gaps and prioritize and guide data collection efforts.

"I am enormously honored to have received this award," said Goldie. " I am passionate about the value of public health and the power of science to make a difference. I consider it my responsibility to think hard about the best way I can leverage this support from the MacArthur Foundation to really make a difference. That is what my work is about."

Said HSPH Dean Barry R. Bloom of Dr. Goldie: "She has a rare ability to go from the most theoretical analysis of decision-making in health care to translating that into the real world of both rich and poor countries in a way that has already made an enormous difference in women's health."

Dr. Goldie's faculty research page is available at: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/faculty/SueGoldie.html

A feature profile of Dr. Goldie from the Summer 2002 issue of Harvard Public Health Review is available at: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/review/review_summer_02/goldie.html
(please note, Dr. Goldie is now an associate professor)

For further information contact:
Robin Herman
rherman@hsph.harvard.edu
(617) 432-4752