School of Medicine Faculty Spotlights

The distinguished faculty of St. Matthew's University is committed to providing students the best medical education focused on patient-centered care. In addition to their responsibilities as educators, the faculty of St. Matthew's Medical School provides support to students as mentors. This ensures that each student has a dedicated resource committed to their success in achieving their Medical Doctor diploma.

Associate Professor of Behavioral Science and Ethics and Student Counselor

AliceAnne Coleman Brunn, Ph.D.
School of Medicine

“After thirty years of clinical practice with residents, primary care physicians and psychiatrists, it is rewarding to share some of what I have learned with physicians of the future as they begin their education at St. Matthew’s.”



AliceAnne Coleman Brunn, Ph.D., is involved in several aspects of teaching Behavioral Science and Ethics. Dr. Brunn joined the faculty in January 2007 after many years in teaching and private practice in Texas. Dr. Brunn earned her Ph.D. at Baylor University from 1971- 1975. After teaching in a variety of settings in New Jersey and Texas, she returned to Baylor’s Health and Counseling Center to direct Psychological Services for students. She entered private practice in Clinical Psychology in 1982; however, she maintained a close working relationship with Baylor, teaching graduate courses in psychodiagnostics and supervising graduate students in Clinical and Educational Psychology in their work at the Health and Counseling Center. Her private practice included individual, family and group psychotherapy as well as psychological consultation to residents at the Family Practice Clinic and physicians in several primary care specialties as well as psychiatrists. Working with a dietician and a family physician, she instituted the first treatment program for Eating Disorders in the area. As a part of this effort she helped to structure the first inpatient treatment program exclusively for women in the local psychiatric hospital. While most of her work has been with self-referred patients, for more than twenty years she also worked with families who were clients of the Department of Family and Protective Services because of abuse and neglect of children in their home as well as with children in foster care. For the past several years before coming to St. Matthew’s, she specialized in psychological assessment and remediation of cognitive dysfunction. As a part of this work, she has testified at court hearings regarding access to professional education for individuals with disabilities. Her research interests are broad but currently center on the application of psychopharmacology and psychotherapeutic techniques to anxiety reduction and management in professional students.

At St. Matthew’s Dr. Brunn works with first-semester students in the Professional Development Program as they adjust to life in Grand Cayman and to the rigors of a very challenging academic program. Time management, test-taking strategies, how to organize and use a study group, managing test anxiety, and understanding strategies best suited to one’s individual learning style are only a few of the topics addressed in the program, which focuses on facilitating student academic success. In the preclinical curriculum (Patient-Doctor courses) Dr. Brunn continues to encourage the development of professionalism as students are introduced to medical ethics and effective doctor-patient communication skills.

In the third semester, Dr. Brunn teaches a comprehensive course in Behavioral Science and Ethics, and works with the preclinical faculty to teach psychiatric evaluation skills in a laboratory setting.

Special assistance is available throughout the Basic Science years for students who have difficulty with test anxiety and reading comprehension or speed, and these are also areas of Dr. Brunn’s research interest. Throughout the Basic Science years Dr. Brunn is available for short-term supportive counseling with students, and referrals to practitioners in the community can be arranged when students require longer-term assistance.

Director of Research & Professor of Biostatistics Epidemiology & Evidence Based Medicine

Dr. Barry Robson Ph.D., D.Sc.
School of Medicine

“It is a rare privilege to live at a time where research can embrace so many diverse scientific disciplines and yet also have the goal of helping physicians save lives.”

 

Scientific Background: Professor Barry Robson’s research might be well expected to cover a range of topics. In working his way through school as a psychiatric and surgical nurse, he developed an enduring interest in healthcare. With a Ph.D. in experimental biochemistry and a doctoral degree (D.Sc.) in computational chemical physics applied to biological molecules, he holds patents and has over 220 publications in such prestigious journals as Nature, Science, and the Journal of Molecular Biology. He did post-doctoral work on proteins under Professor Roger Pain at the University of Newcastle, Professor Shneior Lifson at the Weizmann Institute, and Sir David Phillips at the University of Oxford, and under Sir Rodney Cotterill http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Cotterill at the Technical University of Denmark who extended Barry’s interests in artificial intelligence and consciousness. Dr. Robson vigorously defends the practical value of the latter kind of research. Robson developed the theory and algorithm of the GOR method http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GOR_method, which is widely used in bioinformatics. It not only entered an Encyclopedia of Artificial Intelligence but around 1999 made the top hundred most cited papers ever in the Journal of Molecular Biology… as number eleven! In addition Barry previously founded or help found several biopharmaceutical companies (at least one based on such thinking, which went on to the London Stock Exchange), serving as Chief Scientific Officer or equivalent, and as Chief Executive Officer of The Dirac Foundation to promote the work of physicist and Nobel Laureate Paul A. M. Dirac. From 1998 he served as Strategic Advisor at IBM Research world headquarters http://www.research.ibm.com/people/r/robson/ earning the industry title of IBM Distinguished Engineer for contributions to software technology, and subsequently becoming IBM’s Chief Scientific Officer, Global Healthcare and Life Sciences. He continued to advise IBM on healthcare and pharmaceutical strategy up to 2009, and on theories of innovation and technical vitality, contributing to “Innovate America”, a study by the panels of the National Innovation Initiative (published by The Council On Competitiveness, Washington DC. 2004).

Recent Work: Dr. Robson’s research has fallen into two areas of practical application. Up to 2000 it mainly involved the application of Expert Systems and computational chemistry for the analysis and design of peptide and protein structure [1] and of drugs to bind proteins, with success in the design of early HIV diagnostics, veterinary applications, and the Mad Cow Disease diagnostic marketed worldwide by Abbott. Though studies in protein science continue at St Matthew’s University [2], from 2000 Dr. Robson’s research focused on something very different: electronic patient records [3-7] and their data mining [8-10] for physician decision support systems for computer-assisted diagnosis, therapy selection, and risk and outcomes analysis [3]. It soon became possible to help start amassing enormous data sets generating quantitative rules for clinical inference and epidemiology [10], and for the biotechnology [11] and pharmaceutical [12,13] industries. The two areas of proteins and clinical records merged, however, in 2004, when the first of two papers on the Genomic Messaging System [14,15] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15473681 introduced a secure system for patient records including DNA which would amongst other things automatically help carry out drug design against proteins with features unique to that patient or group. The high level of interest was reflected in a press release from the American Chemical Society as a paper of special merit. Dr. Robson recently co-authored a ground breaking medical textbook entitled “The Engines of Hippocrates. From the Dawn of Medicine to Medical and Pharmaceutical Informatics.”

Research in Progress: Much of Dr. Robson’s current research seeks to lay the basis for advanced clinical decision support systems that are now the declared primary goal of Evidence Based Medicine, including the impact of genomic (DNA-based) and proteomic (protein-based) medical data. The developments help S. Matthew’s University assist the Cayman Heart Fund and other institutions of the Cayman Islands in monitoring public health, and support the University’s research into both psychological health and teaching methods, which along with anatomical research, are major themes at St Matthew’s. But for physicians, epidemiologists, and researchers, there is now an escalating need for artificially intelligent systems, software agents that roam the internet, analyze, and report back [17]. This is because the amount of medical data worldwide is escalating and already many billions of bytes more than anyone could download to analyze [3,17]. In 2007, therefore, Barry’s work took a curious turn suggesting that aspects of the mathematics of quantum mechanics should be explored for Best Practice in medical inference [16].

Mission and Practical Applications: But what is in it for physicians? According to the Human Rights Report on the United States, 2004, medical accidents are medicine’s third biggest killer below cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, stroke, etc.) and cancers. As much earlier recognized by epidemiologist Archie Chochrane who gave birth to the modern discipline of Evidence Based Medicine, misinformation and physician assumptions are extensively to blame. So, new legislations and guidelines, fear of litigation, the inefficiency of paper, and the FDA 2007 Amendment Act, are helping push physicians into use of advanced information technology. As Dr. Robson notes, it is a rare privilege to live at a time where research can embrace so many diverse scientific disciplines and yet also have the goal of helping physicians save lives.

Publications

  1. [1] Robson, B. and Garnier, J. (1986) Introduction to Proteins and Protein Engineering (book), Elsevier Press, Amsterdam.
  2. [2] Robson,B. and and A. Vaithilingham, A. (2008) “Protein Folding Revisited”, Progress in molecular Biology and Translational Science, Volume 84, Molecular Biology of Protein Folding, Part B., pp 3922–3947, AP, Elsevier
  3. [3] Robson, B. and Baek, OK. (2009) The Engines of Hippocrates: From Medicine’s Early Dawn to Medical and Pharmaceutical Informatics (book) , John Wiley & Sons
  4. [4] Shabo, A., Vortman P. and Robson B. (2001). “Who’s Afraid of Lifetime Electronic Medical Records?” proceedings of TEHRE – Towards Electronic Health Records Conference, London, UK, November 2001.
  5. [5] Robson, B. and Garnier, J. (2002) “The future of highly personalized health care". Studies Health Technol. Inform. 80:163-74.
  6. [6] Robson, B., and Baek, OK., “Personalized healthcare 2010: are you ready for information-based medicine?” B. Robson, OK Baek (2007) IBM Business Consulting Services
  7. [7]. Svinte, M., Robson, B., and Henhenberger, M. (2007) “Biomarkers in Drug Dvelopment and Patient Care” Burrill 2007 Person. Med. ReportVol. 6, 3114 - 3126. 8.
  8. [8]. Robson , B. (2003) “clinical and Pharmacogenomic Data Mining. 1. the generalized theory of expected information and application to the development of tools” J. Proteome Res. (Am. Chem. Soc.) 283-301, 2 (2003)
  9. [9]. Robson, B. and Mushlin, R. (2004) “clinical and Pharmacogenomic Data Mining.. 2. A Simple Method for the Combination of Information from Associations and Multivariances to Facilitate Analysis, Decision and Design in Clinical Research and Practice”, J. Proteome Res. (Am. Chem. Soc.) 3(4); 697-711.
  10. [10] Mullins, I.M., Siadaty, M.S., Lyman, J., Scully, K., Garrett, C.T., Miller, W. G., Muller, R., Robson, B., Apte, C., Weiss, S., Rigoustos, I., Platt, D., Cohen , S., Knaus, W. A. (2006) “ Data mining and clinical data repositories: Insights from a 667,000 patient data set” Computers in Biology and Medicine, 2006 Dec;36(12):1351-77.
  11. [11] “The Dragon on the Gold: Myths and Realities for Data Mining in Biotechnology using Digital and Molecular Libraries”, B. Robson (2004) J. Proteome Res. (Am. Chem. Soc.) 3 (6), 1113 - 9.
  12. [12] Robson, B., and Vaithinlingam, A. (2009) “Myths and Realities in Pharmaceutical Data Mining” B. Robson and A. Vaithilingam (2009), in: Technologies for the Pharmaceutical Industry, John Wiley and Sons, in press
  13. [13] Li, J. Robson, B., Dettinger, R., Peters,A. and Boyer, S. (2009) “Drug Design by Data Mining Patents, Annotating and Federalizing Ligand and Protein Target Data, and Virtual Screening on a Supercomputer”, submitted.
  14. [14] Robson, B. and Mushlin, R. (2004) “Genomic Messaging System for Information-Based Personalized Medicine with Clinical and Proteome Research Applications”, J. Proteome Res. (Am. Chem. Soc.) 3(5); 930-948.
  15. [15] Robson, B. and Mushlin, R. (2005) “The Genomic Messaging System Language Including Command Extensions for Clinical Data Categories” B. Robson and R. Mushlin J. Proteome Res. (Am. Chem. Soc.) 4 (2), 275 -299
  16. [16] Robson, B., “The New Physician as Unwitting Quantum Mechanic: Is Adapting Dirac’s Inference System Best Practice for Personalized Medicine, Genomics and Proteomics?” B. Robson (2007), J. Proteome Res., Vol. 6, No. 8: pp 3114 – 3126
  17. [17] Robson, B. (2009) “Towards Intelligent Internet-Roaming Agents for Mining and Inference from Medical Data” in “Strategy for the Future”, Future of Health Technology Vol. III, Ed. Renata Bushko, IOS Press, in press