First Ever Marshall J. Seidman Fellows Begin Their Terms at HCP

October 22, 2015
During the summer of 2015, Sunita Desai, Eric T. Roberts, and Megan Schuler joined the Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy (HCP) as Marshall J. Seidman Fellows. They are the first fellows to be entered into the program, and they will be an integral part of HCP for the next two years. 
“We are excited about the initiation of the Seidman Fellows Program. This Program will leverage the expertise of several of our junior faculty and at the same time will help build skills in applied policy work for the three incredibly talented individuals whom we recruited this year.   I hope that when these fellows finish their two year program, we will find others who will also find the Program beneficial.  Both senior and junior faculty members in HCP are committed to making this Program a success in advancing research in health policy.”
The first components of the program were laid down in 2000, when Marshall J. Seidman, LLB, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1950, provided endowment support to HCP. The goals of the endowment were to support research related to health care costs and quality and to host an annual meeting by a leading policy maker. The latter purpose has grown into the annual Marshall J. Seidman Lecture, which will celebrate its 16th consecutive year on November 2, 2015. To engage the endowment's research aspect, the Marshall J. Seidman Program for Medical Economics in the Department of Health Care Policy was established in 2004. As a teaching and research fund, income was directed to support activities for post-doctoral fellows or faculty members to research health policy and health economics, particularly those that impact the state or federal levels. From there, the Seidman Fellowship Program was created. 
HCP determined that the program would select three fellows for two-year terms to support the faculty in their research. In addition to the endowment fund, some of the HCP faculty members, including the chair and co-chair of the department, made generous financial contributions to ensure the stabilization and success of the program. Senior faculty members Mary Beth Landrum, PhD, and David C. Grabowski, PhD, currently oversee the program. The fellows collaborate with HCP's junior faculty, present to HCP at least two times a semester for the Seidman Fellowship Seminar Series, and prepare to find future opportunities in research. 
Sunita Desai, PhD, comes most recently from Philadelphia, PA, where she completed a PhD in Health Care Management and Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She is a health economist by training, and her dissertation work applied theoretical and empirical models from network economics to understand health care providers’ incentives to adopt health information technology. In addition to her work on health IT, she is expanding her research to other high-impact, policy-relevant topics at HCP. She is collaborating with several faculty members including Ateev Mehrotra, Anupam Jena, Michael McWilliams, Michael Chernew, and Laura Hatfield. In one portfolio of projects with Drs. Mehrotra, Hatfield, and Chernew, she is comprehensively studying the impact of price transparency efforts on health care spending. Most recently, she presented “Interoperability versus Information Blocking: Evidence from Hospital IT Vendor Choice" at the HCP Health Economics Seminar to faculty, students, and others affiliated with HCP.   
Eric Roberts, PhD, recently graduated from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a focus in Health Economics and Policy. His dissertation focused on markets for primary care services for Medicaid adults. Dr. Roberts' research interests include provider behavior, provider-insurer contracting, and studying the effect of neighborhoods on health. He is working with Anupam Jena, Ateev Mehrotra, Michael McWilliams, and Michael Chernew. His projects thus far examine price variation in health insurance markets using data from FAIR Health. Dr. Roberts also has a burgeoning interest in methods of applied econometrics and statistics. 
Megan Schuler, PhD, originally hails from Columbia, SC. She received her PhD in Mental Health from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2013. She is an applied statistician whose primary statistical interests are in causal inference methods and latent variable modeling. Additionally, she has longstanding interests in adolescent substance use treatment and the comorbidity of substance use and mental health disorders. At HCP, Dr. Schuler is collaborating with Sherri Rose on causal inference methods, including targeted maximum likelihood estimation, and Laura Hatfield on methods to optimize medical treatment decisions by considering multiple patient outcomes and patient preferences. She has an upcoming talk in the Seidman Fellow Seminar on December 15, titled "Targeted Maximum Likelihood Estimation for Causal Inference in Observational Studies." 
The Seidman Fellows are excited to be working at HCP with such renowned faculty and cutting-edge research. They look forward to a productive two years and have already learned a great deal during their time here.