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Clinical and Population Health

The Clinical & Population Health Research (CPHR) doctoral program is one of the few in the country that was specifically designed to address the new challenges in biomedical research. These include speeding the translation of knowledge from the explosion in basic sciences to patient care interventions, and assuring that new evidence-based medicine reaches the populations that can benefit from it. The CPHR program promotes an interdisciplinary approach to conducting research, and provides a strong focus on addressing the needs of vulnerable populations.  

Design and assessment of a novel communication system for mechanically ventilated ICU patients

Dr. Robert H. Brown, Dr. J. Matthias Walz and Miriam A. Goldberg



Dr. Brown is an internationally known clinical researcher leading the quest to cure neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In 1993, a team of researchers led by Dr. Brown discovered the first gene linked to the inherited form of ALS, a protein anti-oxidant known as superoxide dismutase, or SOD1. Since the initial discovery of the SOD1 gene, Dr. Brown has played a major role in the discovery of other genetic mutations that cause or influence the survival time in ALS. His clinical research efforts focus on RNAi and gene-based therapies for familial cases of ALS stemming from the SOD1 mutations. In addition to his work with ALS, Dr. Brown has also identified disease genes in other inherited neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases such as hyperkalemic periodic paralysis, Miyoshi muscular dystrophy and hereditary sensory neuropathy.
Brown Lab

Miriam A. Goldberg graduated from MIT in 2009 with an SB in Computer Science & Engineering and in 2010 with an M.Eng. in Autism Technologies from the MIT Media Lab. She also participated in the post-baccalaureate program at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

She is completing a thesis in design and assessment of a novel communication system for mechanically ventilated ICU patients. This project is in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Neurology under the supervision of Dr. Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD, professor of neurology; Dr. J. Matthias Walz, MD, chair of anesthesiology & peri-operative medicine; and Dr. Leigh R. Hochberg, MD, PhD, professor at Brown University and a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The MOCS (Manually Operated Communication System) project pilots a new way to meet the communication needs of patients who are unable to speak due to mechanical ventilation/trach and may struggle to write due to fatigue, edema, or tremor.

Dr. Walz is an attending anesthesiologist and Professor within the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at the UMass Chan Medical School. Recently, he became chairperson of this department. As an investigator, he has distinguished himself as a leader in early, goal-directed mobilization of Surgical ICU patients, and he has conducted multiple studies of perioperative outcomes. He has completed multiple projects relating to anesthesia patient safety. Several of these deal with the prevention of infections related to surgery, others with the best management of catheters for anesthesia. Additionally, he has acquired expertise in critical care medicine, especially in relation to the prevention of infections in central venous catheters. Several of these have been large cohort studies. His familiarity in patient safety related to ICU activities and critical care medicine has informed his work in anesthesia patient safety.