To learn of the creative springs of today’s science, Dr. Rita Charon interviews leading scientists, for the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Narratives of Discovery project. She draws on their thoughts, imagination and analytical minds to illuminate the interconnections among the modes of knowing, seeing, and telling in the medical sciences. The fifth article in the series is now published, an interview with Dr. George Hripcsak:
“George was building computers in his dorm room in 1977, starting with assembly kits and ordering additional parts from electronic catalogues pre-internet. His first computer—which he proudly showed off to me on my first zoom into his office—provided 256 bytes of memory, which seemed to him at the time infinite.”
“I was interested in computers and mathematics and in astronomy at the time. In college I took the one computer course they had, but I took 12 philosophy classes. . . Kant is very analytic. Understanding Kant is kind of like programming a computer; it takes some very analytical [training] to understand what he’s talking about and try to get it. . . As you get to Hegel, then it’s all ambiguity and paradox.”
– Dr. Hripcsak is the Vivian Beaumont Allen Professor and Chair of Columbia University’s Department of Biomedical Informatics and Director of Medical Informatics Services for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia Campus. He serves as PI–with co-PI David Madigan–of OHDSI’s Coordinating Center, which is based at Columbia University. His recent pharmacovigilance research has included medication-wide association studies, treatment pathways, large-scale observational studies, and next-generation phenotyping to better exploit electronic health record data for observational research.
The effective practice of medicine requires narrative competence, that is, the ability to acknowledge, absorb, interpret, and act on the stories and plights of others. Medicine practiced with narrative competence, called narrative medicine, is proposed as a model for humane and effective medical practice.
Scientific concepts and research design
Leadership and professionalism
Communication and teamwork
Columbia University Health Sciences