Past Speakers


      Dr. Jeffrey Flier, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University

Dr. Flier, an endocrinologist and an authority on the molecular causes of obesity and diabetes, is also the Caroline Shields Walker Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Previously he had served as Harvard Medical School Faculty Dean for Academic Programs and Chief Academic Officer for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Dr. Flier is one of the country’s leading investigators in the areas of obesity and diabetes. He has authored over 200 scholarly papers and reviews and has held many editorial positions. An elected member of the Institute of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Flier’s honors also include the Eli Lilly Award of the American Diabetes Association, the Berson Lecture of the American Physiological Society, and Honorary Doctorates from the University of Athens and the University of Edinburgh. He was the recipient of the 2003 Edwin B. Astwood Lecture Award from the Endocrine Society, and in 2005, he received the Banting Medal from the American Diabetes Association, its highest scientific honor.

Board of Advisors:

      Dr. Steve A. N. Goldstein, Chairman of the Global Youth Summit on the Future of Medicine

Dr. Goldstein became provost of Brandeis University on September 1, 2011 and serves as the chief academic officer and the second ranking member of the administration, responsible for all areas of the university. Dr. Goldstein is a leading authority on mechanisms underlying normal function of the heart and brain and sudden, life-threatening diseases. He did his pediatric internship, residency and a clinical fellowship in pediatric medicine and cardiology at Children’s Hospital Boston.

From 1993 to 2004, Goldstein was on the faculty at the Yale University School of Medicine and founded the Section of Developmental Biology and Biophysics. In 2004, he moved to the University of Chicago to become Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Physician-in-Chief at Comer Children’s Hospital. While at Chicago he founded the Institute for Molecular Pediatric Sciences and co-founded the Institute for Translational Medicine. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and in 2001 received the E. Mead Johnson Award for pediatric research. From 2002 to 2007, he was editor-in-chief of the Quarterly Review of Biophysics.

Dr. Goldstein grew up in New York City and came to Brandeis in 1974 as an undergraduate. He earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in biochemistry in 1978, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. Goldstein holds an M.D. and Ph.D. in immunology from Harvard University and is an accomplished scientist and scholar.

      Dr. Irving R. Epstein, Henry F. Fischbach Professor of Chemistry, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, Volen National Center for Complex Systems

With a Ph.D. from Harvard University Dr. Epstein is a leading global researcher on the oscillatory chemical reactions, spatial pattern formation, dynamical systems and neurobiology. Many phenomena in living systems involve periodic changes. Dr. Epstein and his team study these systems both experimentally and theoretically, from several points of view. They have achieved the first successful design of a new chemical oscillator and have used their systematic design algorithm to expand the family of chemical oscillators from two accidentally discovered reactions to some two dozen deliberately constructed systems. While Dr. Epstein continues the search for new types of oscillators, he probes by a variety of techniques, including spectrophotometry, potentiometry, rapid mixing and computer simulation, the mechanisms of those that have already been discovered.

      Dr. Michael Freed, Attending and Cardiology Boston Children’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School

A leading physician in Boston’s medical community where he currently practices at the Department of Cardiology at Children’s Hospital, Dr. Freed has more than 40 years of experience treating patients and solving difficult medical dilemmas. Throughout his years of practice, he has experienced the full range of human emotion from informing families they have lost a child to saving lives in challenging situations. Dr. Freed started as an intern and resident at the Bellevue Medical Center in New York before completing clinical and research fellowships in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a cardiology fellowship at Children’s Hospital. He has taught pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, served on the medical staff of numerous hospitals including Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Additionally, Dr. Freed served as the Chief of Cardiology Clinics, Chief of Cardiology Inpatient Service and Chief of the Division of Inpatient Cardiology at Children’s Hospital.


      Dr. Ronald Dunlap, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society

Dr. Dunlap is board certified in internal medicine and cardiology and a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. He has appointments at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and South Shore Hospital. Long active with the state medical society, he is a member of the Board of Trustees and the House of Delegates and previously was chair of the Committee on Diversity in Medicine. He has been a member of the committees on Information Technology, Member Services, Public Health, Nominations, Strategic Planning, and Administration and Management and was president of the Norfolk South District Medical Society from 2006-2008.

A graduate of Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with a concentration in biomedical electronics, he earned his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine. He has been an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School since 1979 and serves on the alumni board of Tufts University Medical School and the board of the Coverys Insurance Co.

      Dr. Andrew Flagel, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment and Senior Lecturer at Brandeis University

Dr. Flagel’s research and writing focuses on student success in college, admissions policies and practices, and organizational communication in higher education. His article, "Revisiting the High School Visit," was selected for the Journal of College Admission 75th Anniversary Edition. As Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment, Dr. Flagel supervises the offices of admissions, community living (housing), athletics, financial aid, student accounts, the Hiatt Career Center, the Health Center, the Interfaith Chaplaincy, the Intercultural Center, and student activities.

Prior to joining Brandeis, Dr. Flagel was associate vice president for enrollment development and dean of admissions at George Mason University, where he also taught in the department of communication, was executive director for the Washington Journalism and Media Conference and the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment, and served as advisor to the university band and the Jewish Student Association. Before Mason, he was the director of admissions at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan. He also served as the director of enrollment management for the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, and as a regional director of admissions at George Washington University (GW).

Dr. Flagel holds a Ph.D. in education with a concentration in communication from the College of Education at Michigan State University, as well as a B.A. in psychology and philosophy and an M.A. in education and human development, each from GW.

      Dr. Elizabeth Phimister, Deputy Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine

Dr. Phimister carried out her doctoral work with The Imperial Cancer Research Fund, seeking ways to discriminate between rhabdomyosarcoma and neuroblastoma, two cancers that can be difficult to differentially diagnose. After post-doctoral work characterizing cadherin expression by cells comprising the islets of Langerhans at Cambridge University, she joined Nature Genetics in 1996 and was appointed editor in May, 2000. In 2002 she joined The New England Journal of Medicine.


      Dr. Margie Lachman, Minnie and Harold Fierman Professor of Psychology at Brandeis University

Dr. Lachman is a preeminent researcher in the area of lifespan development with a focus on midlife and later life. Her current work is aimed at identifying psychosocial (e.g., sense of control) and behavioral (e.g., physical exercise) factors that can protect against, minimize, or compensate for declines in cognition (e.g., memory) and health. Dr. Lachman is conducting studies to examine long-term predictors of psychological and physical health, laboratory-based experiments to identify psychological and physiological processes involved in aging-related changes, and intervention studies to enhance performance and promote adaptive functioning.

      Dr. Walter Leutz, Associate Professor at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Dr. Leutz is a renowned expert in aging policy and in long-term care policy and programs. Dr. Leutz is currently Principal Investigator of an evaluation of a federal demonstration of the delivery of Medicare home health services in adult day care settings and two federal demonstrations of enhanced services to newborns exposed to illegal substances and their families. His current research interests include the relationships between public benefit systems and the welfare of aging and disabled populations, long-term care/medical care integration, what service users want from care service systems, how systems respond to wants in the context of new financing, and how needs, utilization, and costs evolve over time in enrolled populations. He is the author of numerous articles, as well as three books on the practical development of primary health care systems. Dr. Leutz earned his Ph.D. from Brandeis University, a M.S.W. from Columbia University and a B.A. from Princeton University.

      Dr. Laura S. Lorenz, Senior Research Associate and Lecturer at the Institute for Behavioral Health of the Schneider Institute for Health Policy

Dr. Lorenz is also the Program Director for the Supportive Living Wellness Center for Brain Injury Rehabilitation and Research in Lexington, MA working with inter-disciplinary colleagues to implement a program of research to support the social, cognitive, and physical rehabilitation of individuals living with chronic brain injury. Dr. Lorenz previously worked in international development as a writer, editor, and educator for agencies such as UNICEF, World Food Programme, and the US Agency for International Development. Her assignments often involved encouraging partnerships, project replication, and behavior change. She has published in peer review journals in the fields of sociology, health, and visual studies.

      Dr. Sacha Nelson, Professor of Biology at Brandeis University

Dr. Nelson oversees the Nelson Lab and is a member of the National Center for Behavioral Genomics. Dr. Nelson’s research into the sequencing of multiple mammalian genomes, together with the development of whole-transcriptome profiling technologies, has opened the door to an unprecedented ability to study gene expression in the brain. Dr. Nelson is primarily interested in examining the mammalian neocortex, which is our most complex organ and plays an indispensable role in many human behaviors. He earned a B.A. and B.S. from Brown University before earning his M.D. and Ph.D. from UC-San Diego.

      Dr. Suzanne Paradis, Assistant Professor of Biology at Brandeis University

Dr. Paradis is a leading Harvard-educated molecular neuroscientist and head of the Paradis Lab who studies the synapses in the mammalian central nervous system. Dr. Paradis developed an interest in using genetics as a tool for understanding complex biological processes as a graduate student in the laboratory of Gary Ruvkun at Harvard Medical School. While pursuing her postdoctoral training, Dr. Paradis chose to focus on nervous system development, specifically to understand synapse development and function. In the laboratory of Graeme Davis at UCSF, Dr. Paradis used a combination of genetic and electrophysiological approaches to dissect the homeostatic regulation of synaptic function at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction (NMJ), before continuing her postdoctoral training in a mammalian system in the laboratory of Michael Greenberg at Children's Hospital Boston who she established RNAi approaches in cultured neurons for isolating new molecules required for inhibitory and excitatory synapse development.

      Dr. Cindy Parks Thomas, Associate Research Professor at the Schneider Institute for Health Policy

Dr. Parks has a research and evaluation focus on state and national health reform, pharmacy policy and insurance benefit design. Dr. Thomas' current work includes analyses of drug utilization and spending trends, evaluations of the impact of state coverage programs, Medicaid pharmacy coverage, and access to emerging biopharmaceuticals, from the perspective of providers, beneficiaries and other stakeholders. Dr. Thomas is also currently engaged in assessment of electronic prescribing practices. In the area of behavioral health, her work includes adoption and impact of new treatments for substance abuse, monitoring the prescribing and use of controlled substances, and development of performance measures for medication assisted treatment of substance use disorders. Dr. Thomas holds a Ph.D. in Health Policy from Brandeis University Heller Graduate School and a Master's Degree in Health Policy and Management from the Harvard School of Public Health. She is a trained Physician's Assistant, in the past specializing in internal medicine, trauma and emergency care in both Kaiser Health Plan and rural private practice settings.

      Dr. Neil Simister, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and of the Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center

A leading biologist and innovator in life-science research, Dr. Simister played a leading role in the biopharmaceutical start-up Syntonix, formed by Brandeis, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Children’s Hospital Boston to commercialize novel drug-delivery methods. In 2007 Biogen Idec bought Syntonix and it became the first Brandeis spinout to be acquired by a biotech giant. Dr. Simister’s work focuses on harnessing the human body’s natural immunological pathways to provide a novel method of drug delivery. In the early- to mid-1990s, Dr. Simister and his colleagues discovered that the molecular receptor that carries immunoglobulin G antibodies from mother to fetus across the placenta is also found in the mucous membranes lining the intestines, airways, and lungs. This discovery led to the idea that the receptor, known as FcRn, could be used to carry large-protein drugs across mucous membranes into the bloodstream, suggesting the possibility of replacing these injection drugs with inhaled or oral versions. Dr. Simister’s team then discovered that the FcRn receptor also prevents antibodies from breaking down quickly in the bloodstream, the normal fate of other molecules. This rescue capability made FcRn part of a so-called salvage pathway. To take advantage of this pathway, Syntonix scientists designed pharmaceutical proteins that bind to FcRn, extending the lifetimes of these drugs in the bloodstream. Dr. Simister and his team’s discoveries have led to dramatic improvements in health care.

      Dr. Darren E. Zinner, Social Scientist at the Schneider Institute for Health Policy and a Senior Lecturer at the Heller School of Social Policy and Management

Dr. Zinner is also a senior member the Health Industry Forum, a policy consortium of major health insurers, delivery system managers, and biopharmaceutical and medical device firms. Previously, Dr. Zinner managed several research projects at the Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Health Policy, where he studied the implications of academic-industry relationships on the productivity and innovativeness of life scientists. From 1996 to 2000, he was Senior Associate for Covance Health Economics and Outcomes Services, leading strategic consulting engagements concerning the clinical development, insurance reimbursement, and product launch for novel biopharmaceutical and device products. In the early 1990s, he worked as a biomedical engineer designing and developing laparoscopic instruments for United States Surgical Corporation. Dr. Zinner earned his doctoral degree in Health Policy from Harvard University and a masters degree in Technology and Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has authored and co-authored several peer reviewed publications and is the inventor on two patents..

Speakers and site visits for the 2014 Summit will be announced later this year.