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Welcoming the 2012–13 Harkness Fellows in Health Care Policy and Practice

  • Robin Osborn
    Robin Osborn

    Senior Advisor, International Program in Health Policy and Practice Innovations, The Commonwealth Fund

  • Robin Osborn
    Robin Osborn

    Senior Advisor, International Program in Health Policy and Practice Innovations, The Commonwealth Fund

The Commonwealth Fund is delighted to announce its 2012–13 Harkness Fellows in Health Care Policy and Practice. Established in 1925, the Harkness Fellowships were modeled after the Rhodes Scholarships and are The Commonwealth Fund’s longest-running program.

Since 1998, the Harkness Fellowships have focused on health care policy, providing a unique opportunity for more than 150 outstanding midcareer professionals—academic researchers, government policymakers, clinicians, hospital and insurance managers, and journalists—from Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom to spend 12 months in the United States studying a critical issue on the health policy agenda, working with leading U.S. health policy experts, and gaining in-depth knowledge of the U.S. health care system.

Harkness Fellows have published their findings in leading journals, including: Health Affairs, New England Journal of Medicine, The Milbank Quarterly, Journal of the American Medical Association, and the British Medical Journal.

Returning to their home country, fellows move into positions of influence, most recently as director-general health/chief executive of NHS Scotland, chief executive of the Australian National Health Performance Authority, policy adviser to the Irish Minister of Health, professor and chair of health care improvement at University College London, and vice-chancellor of health sciences and dean of the Otago Medical School. Based on a recent 10-year review of the Harkness Fellowships, one of three Harkness alumni was rated as a national leader within academia, government, or the health care delivery system in his or her home country. The fellows also become part of a strong international network, continuing to collaborate with The Commonwealth Fund, U.S. mentors and colleagues, and other Harkness Fellows beyond the fellowship year.

The Harkness Fellowships are strengthened by country partners who provide cofunding and help the Harkness Fellows leverage their work upon their return: The Robert Bosch Foundation, The B. Braun Foundation, The Nuffield Trust, the NHS National Institute for Health Research, the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, the Careum Foundation, the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the Norwegian Research Council, and the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.

We welcome the 2012–13 class of Harkness Fellows to the United States and value the insights they will bring from their home countries to the shared challenges that we face as we strive to achieve higher-performing health care systems. The following is a list of fellows and their mentors; click on their names to read about their fellowship projects.

Peter Alders, Ph.D., M.Sc. (Harkness/Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport Fellow), is a health economist who has held senior policy advisor positions in the Dutch Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment since 2000. His current work has focused largely on reforms of the Exceptional Medical Expenses Act, which funds long-term care in the Netherlands, the transfer of responsibility and services to the local jurisdiction under the Social Support Act, and the growth of personal budgets.

Mentor and Placement: Richard G. Frank, Ph.D., Margaret T. Morris Professor of Health Economics, Harvard Medical School

Harkness Project: Policy Strategies to Improve Use of Long-Term Care Services

Matthew Anstey, M.B.B.S., M.P.H., is a critical care physician trained at University of Western Australia who has completed fellowships in intensive care and emergency medicine. In 2011, he completed a master of public health degree at Harvard School of Public Health. Most recently, he conducted research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on early mobilization of ICU patients and developed best practice guidelines for end-of-life care.

Co-mentors and Placement: Murray Ross, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Health Policy; and Elizabeth McGlynn, Ph.D., director of the Center for Effectiveness and Safety Research, Kaiser Permanente

Harkness Project: Improving Resource Use in the Intensive Care Unit

Nikola Biller-Andorno, M.D., Ph.D. (Harkness/Careum Foundation Fellow), is a physician and bioethicist, and founder of the Institute of Biomedical Ethics at the University of Zurich. Previously, she was a visiting scholar at Yale in the Humanities in Medicine Program, a postdoc research fellow in anesthesia and pain management at Harvard Medical School, and an ethicist at the World Health Organization. She is president of the International Association of Bioethics and has published nearly 40 peer-reviewed journal articles.

Co-mentors and Placement: Thomas H. Lee, M.D., professor and network president, Partners HealthCare System; and Gregory D. Curfman, M.D., executive editor, New England Journal of Medicine

Harkness Project: A Tiger with Teeth: Evaluating and Monitoring the Ethical Implications of Health Care Payment Reform

Joan Costa-Font, Ph.D., M.Sc., is a senior lecturer at the London School of Economics and Political Science and former consultant to the World Bank and European Commission. His research has focused on European health policy, including: aging policy, health inequalities, pharmaceutical policy and competition, demand for private health insurance, smoking, and obesity. He is widely published and has edited five books, including Long-Term Care Financing in Europe: A Review of Institutions, Markets, and Models.

Co-mentors and Placement: Katherine Swartz, Ph.D., professor of health policy and economics, Harvard School of Public Health; and Richard Frank, Ph.D., Margaret T. Morris Professor of Health Economics, Harvard Medical School

Harkness Project: Partnerships and Long-Term Care Financing in Europe and the United States

Gerdien Franx, M.Sc., is the manager of health care innovation at the Trimbos Institute/National Institute for Mental Health and Addiction in the Netherlands. Franx was a nurse in the Netherlands, France, and the former Soviet Union before developing a career in health services research. At the Trimbos Institute, she served as the national lead for implementing Quality Improvement Collaboratives in mental health care and oversaw the development of national clinical guidelines in mental health and the national standard of care for depression.

Co-mentors and Placement: Harold Pincus, M.D., professor and director of quality and outcomes research; and Lisa Dixon, M.D., professor and director, Center for Practice Innovations, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Harkness Project: The Whole Person Approach: Integration of Mental Health and Primary Care

Simona Grassi, Ph.D., M.Sc. (Harkness/Careum Foundation Fellow), is an assistant professor of health economics at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Grassi is a health economist interested in behavioral economics, consumers’ health insurance choices, and the interaction between the public and private sectors in health. Previously, she was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute, Italy, visiting faculty at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, and a Fulbright Visiting Scholar and Lecturer at Boston University.

Mentor and Placement: Joseph P. Newhouse, Ph.D., John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Management, Harvard Medical School

Harkness Project: Affordability and Means-Tested Models in Health Insurance Markets

Daniela Koller, Ph.D. (Harkness/Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow), is a research fellow at the Centre for Social Policy Research at the University of Bremen in Germany. As a geographer and health services researcher, Koller brings an interdisciplinary perspective to her work. Her current projects involve analysis of complex data sets of statutory health insurance claims in order to understand utilization patterns of elderly patients in Germany with dementia and comorbidities.

Co-mentors and Placement: Elliott S. Fisher, M.D., director, population health and policy, Dartmouth Institute for Health Care Policy and Clinical Practice; and Julie Bynum, M.D., associate professor, Dartmouth Medical School

Harkness Project: Health Services Utilization and Needs of Dementia Patients

Hans Olav Melberg, Ph.D., (Harkness/Norwegian Research Council Fellow) is an associate professor of economics at the University of Oslo. A health economist, Melberg directs a Ministry of Finance project on end-of-life costs and future spending; a Ministry of Health project on international comparisons on health expenditures and outcomes; and a EuroHope Project comparing hip fracture treatments and outcomes. He is also an advisor to the Ministry of Health on pharmaceutical prices and has published three books, including The Norwegian Health System in the Future.

Mentor and Placement: Mark Pauly, Ph.D., professor of health care management, business, and public policy, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Harkness Project: Integrated Care and Incentives: Who Are the Most Expensive Patients and What Does It Tell Us About the Health Care System?

Julia Murphy, M.Sc., head of primary care quality improvement for the NHS London Strategic Health Authority, has led several complex delivery system change programs. She oversaw the development of outcome standards for general practice for the United Kingdom and implemented a framework for monitoring primary care performance across London. Previously, she was responsible for programs that achieved record levels of immunization and four-hour emergency room wait targets and, as Health Improvement Performance Management Lead for the NHS Health Scotland, the implementation of national targets and interventions for health promotion.

Co-mentors and Placement: Andrew Bindman, M.D., professor of medicine, health policy, epidemiology, and biostatistics and director, California Medicaid Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco; and Kenneth Kizer, M.D., distinguished professor, University of California Davis School of Medicine/Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing

Harkness Project: Improving Quality and Lowering Costs Through Health System Integration in Med-Cal

Douglas Noble, B.M.B.Ch., M.R.C.S., F.R.S.P.H., M.D.(Res), a specialist in public health with a master of public health from Johns Hopkins University, is a public health registrar and clinical lecturer at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry and previously worked for two years as clinical adviser to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England and part of the World Health Organization Patient Safety Team. Noble has published nineteen peer-reviewed journal articles and participated in formulating the CMO’s annual Reports on the State of Public Health from 2005-2007. He contributed to the NHS Next Stage Review in 2008, and more recently briefly acted as a public health adviser to the U.K. Cabinet Office. In 2010, he led a national investigation into an outbreak of salmonella for the U.K. Health Protection Agency. His Harkness project will explore the mechanisms for and barriers to accountable care organizations achieving good population health outcomes through a series of detailed case studies and interviews with policymakers. 

Mentor and Placement: Lawrence P. Casalino, M.D., Ph.D., chief, Division of Outcomes and Effectiveness Research, Weill-Cornell Medical College

Harkness Project: The Role of Accountable Care Organizations in Improving Population Health

Alexandra Norrish, M.St., is deputy director of financial policy and strategy in the U.K. Department of Health. Since 2010, she has overseen the development of the annual NHS budget proposal and negotiations with Her Majesty’s Treasury Department, and had lead responsibility for modelling and assessing the cost implications of the current NHS policy reforms and advising ministers on policy options for the NHS to make mandated efficiency savings of £20 billion by 2014–15. Previously, Norrish was head of Social Care Strategy in the Department of Health, policy advisor and deputy director in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, and health policy advisor to the Prime Minister. Norrish has a master of studies degree in research methods.

Co-mentors and Placement: Thomas H. Lee, M.D., professor and network president, Partners HealthCare System; and Dana G. Safran, Sc.D., vice president for performance measurement and improvement, Massachusetts Blue Cross Blue Shield

Harkness Project: The Impact of Balancing the Priorities of Different Stakeholders in a Value-Based Health Care System

Nadine Reibling, Ph.D. candidate, is a research fellow at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research at the University of Mannheim. Reibling is a sociologist whose research interests are comparative health care systems, welfare state attitudes, health inequalities, and quality of life in old age. Previously a visiting scholar at Boston University and the University of Amsterdam, she has authored many peer-reviewed publications, including an award-winning article in the Journal of European Social Policy.

Mentor and Placement: Meredith B. Rosenthal, Ph.D., professor of health economics and policy, Harvard School of Public Health

Harkness Project: The Patient-Centered Medical Home: Tackling Health Inequalities Through Primary Care

Jason Sutherland, Ph.D. (Harkness/Canadian Health Services Research Foundation Fellow), is an assistant professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. An internationally recognized expert in case mix/risk adjustment methods, he has 37 peer-reviewed publications, including in the New England Journal of Medicine, Health Policy, Health Affairs, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. Previously, he held academic posts at Dartmouth’s Center for Health Policy and Research, Indiana University, and the Center of Excellence on Implementing Evidence Based Practice at the Indianapolis VA Medical Center. He currently serves as an in-house adviser to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and to the Ministry of Health in British Columbia.

Mentor and Placement: William H. Shrank, M.D., director, Rapid Cycle Evaluation Group, The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation

Harkness Project: Funding Across the Continuum: Does It Work to Improve Care and Reduce Cost?

Susan Wells, M.B.Ch.B., Ph.D., is senior lecturer of clinical epidemiology and quality improvement at the University of Auckland. Wells practiced general medicine for 10 years before moving into a research career. She has since published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles. She was the national lead in developing the Web-based decision support tool, PREDICT, for assessing and managing cardiovascular risk in primary care. PREDICT is now being used in primary care practices serving one-third of the New Zealand population. With the New Zealand Heart Foundation, she pioneered an innovative electronic shared decision-making tool, “Your Heart Forecast.”

Mentor and Placement: David W. Bates, M.D., professor, Harvard Medical School and chief, Division of General Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Harkness Project: The Use of Electronic Health Records to Improve Health Care Delivery System Integration for Chronically Ill Patients

Publication Details



R. Osborn, Welcoming the 2012–13 Harkness Fellows in Health Care Policy and Practice, The Commonwealth Fund Blog, September 2012.