image title

Sherine Gabriel to lead ASU Health

July 6, 2023

Bringing a wide array of experience, Gabriel says ASU Health will be a ‘different model altogether’ combining tech, innovation, industry and community needs

Arizona State University has named Dr. Sherine Gabriel — whose resume includes an extensive list of leadership positions in medicine and academia — executive vice president of ASU Health.

Gabriel, who had been University Professor of the Future of Health Outcomes and Medicine and chair of the ASU Health Outcomes Design Council, has dedicated her career to improving health and advancing innovative education, training and equitable health outcomes as a medical systems leader, an educator, a population scientist and a clinical rheumatologist.

In addition to numerous professional appointments with Mayo Clinic, including her role as dean of its medical school, Gabriel has been dean of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and president of Rush University in Chicago. Rush University is a nationally ranked academic medical center and includes a medical college, college of nursing, college of health sciences and graduate college.

ASU News talked with Gabriel about her new position and ASU Health, including the new ASU School of Medicine and Advanced Medical Engineering, which will integrate clinical medicine, biomedical science and engineering.

The interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Question: Everyone has seen the headlines about ASU Health. What’s now happening behind the scenes?

Answer: The short answer is a lot. We’ve been working to identify all of ASU’s health assets, which are considerable, and are beginning to bring people together. We’re leveraging skills and talent and resources from across ASU, and everybody is pitching in, which is pretty amazing. Since the day of the announcement (about the medical school), and probably every day since then, there’s been a deluge of emails from people inside ASU and people outside saying, “This is really cool. How can I help?” That’s awesome and inspiring.

Q: ASU Health is not just about the School of Medicine and Advanced Medical Engineering. What are some of the other elements that excite you about ASU Health?

A: First, the School of Medicine and Advanced Medical Engineering is a first-of-its-kind medical school in the country that fuses the disciplines of medicine and engineering to create a different kind of health-care provider that approaches problems differently and devises solutions in a way that none of us were trained to do. One way I like to think about it is we’re not only training doctors to help patients, one patient at a time, like most of us were trained, but to train doctors to come up with solutions that could potentially help hundreds or thousands of patients at a time.

The other one-of-a-kind school is the School of Public Health Technology. We’re bringing technology into public health in a way that hasn’t been done before in order to reimagine the discipline of public health so that it’s more effective to improve health for everyone. It’s fueled by everything that AI, data science and technology can bring to bear.

Q: That's just a few parts of ASU Health, correct?

A: Everyone is aware of the critical shortages in nursing, right? We have plans to accelerate the production of nurses, nursing specialists and other health professionals, and also accelerate research both in the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and the College of Health Solutions.

We also have some creative research initiatives like the Health Observatory at Arizona State University, which will be a one-of-a-kind statewide research and surveillance system that has the capability to use state-of-the-art technology, AI tools and data-science tools to identify health threats as well as ongoing health indicators enabling us to act much earlier than we have been able to in the past. Another key focus is on growing our collaborative work with our partners, like Mayo Clinic. All of these are components of ASU Health.

Q: A medical school at ASU has been talked about for years. Why is now the right time?

A: I think the university has developed and evolved to a stage such that now is the right time. There are impactful health-related programs in virtually every college and unit. It’s absolutely remarkable. The goal is not to change those efforts but to enhance them and bring added focus and coordination. A medical school can do that.

Q: Beyond academia, are there industry leaders involved in building out ASU Health?

A: Absolutely. Like everything else ASU does, innovation, industry and entrepreneurship are a key part of it. One of the items we discussed, in fact, is to create an industry and community council, even at this early design stage. That’s an important dimension, to ensure that we include their voices as we plan. We’re anticipating that some of the graduates of some of the programs that we’re building will seek roles in industry because we’re training them in engineering, innovation and entrepreneurship.

So, we want industry leaders to engage with us upfront, to help us build education programs that graduate the kind of people that can hit the ground running in their companies. We also want community members to tell us what is important to them in the context of their health.

Q: Fast-forward five years and then 10 years. What do you see for ASU Health?

A: I believe in a few years people will be able to recognize that ASU Health is a very different model than those which exist elsewhere. The kind of individuals we will admit into ASU Health programs are not your average students. They will have a different phenotype. They will have different interests and different backgrounds. They will be committed to solving health problems in a different way and learning the tools to help them do so: engineering principles, data science, AI principles, that kind of thing. We’ll also have a different kind of faculty, a large multidisciplinary faculty not focused in one school but drawn from across the entire university.

So, it’ll be a different model altogether, integrated rather than siloed. A lot of medical schools, for example, are on an entirely different campus than the rest of the university and have separate faculty and infrastructure. ASU Health schools and programs will be a core part of the ASU and surrounding community.

Externally, in the health sphere, the health providers we plan to produce in increased numbers will help to address the serious shortages in Arizona and beyond, and the research that will emerge from things like the Health Observatory at ASU and the Mayo Clinic ASU Alliance will, we hope, help solve the health challenges that plague us and will have industry looking to us as a place to recruit outstanding graduates and for partnerships and collaborations of all sorts.

Scott Bordow

Reporter , ASU News

image title

Program helps veterans reckon with reintegration

July 6, 2023

Veterans Imagination Project helps vets craft future narratives, find success

Leaving the military can be one of the most anxious and stressful moments of a service member’s life.

Whether their enlistment is four years or 20, their time in the U.S. Armed Forces is regimented, highly organized and spelled out in black and white. The expectations are very clear.

But once they are discharged, everything changes. And that can be challenging.

Arizona State University’s Bob Beard knows this all too well. When he left the Marines in 1999, he was given less than three days to make that transition.

“Too often, separating from the military is treated as a simple job change or a relocation, but the truth is it’s far more complex than that,” said Beard, a senior program manager for ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination. “We’re asking these folks to find a new community, learn new cultural competencies and develop a post-service identity in a world that is radically different than the one they just left. Navigating this broad possibility space is more than simply checking boxes — it requires thinking out of the box entirely.”

Beard and his colleagues often give guiding advice to large organizations, asking them to think about how the future of their work might change over the next few decades. After a while, he thought people transitioning out of the military could similarly benefit from these skills.

And that’s how the Veterans Imagination Project was born.

The Veterans Imagination Project was created in spring 2022 to empower veterans in transition by providing them with future thinking and collaborative imagination skills. Participants learn over the course of eight weeks how to research a desired career and examine the influences and impacts that define that field through foresight activities, scenario planning and speculative storytelling.

Students in the class — veterans and service members from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces — interview mentors in their chosen field and work together to identify trends and potential opportunities in those industries. Collaborating with other cohort members, instructors and guest speakers, they begin to craft a narrative about their future careers and their places in them.

Military transition and post-service employment are timely topics, studied by scholars and taken up by veterans service organizations around the nation. Last fall, the U.S. Government Accountability Office published its recommendations to improve the military’s formal transition assistance program, which prepares service members for civilian careers.

Beard sees this project, with its emphasis on forecasting and long-term planning, as "another tool in a veteran’s toolbox."

What a toolbox it is, though.

After working for weeks to create plausible future-oriented scenarios, participants meet with a concept artist who helps bring these visions to life.

“If you can give someone a photo or rendering of them in a job 10-to-20 years from now, they can see the possibility of a future for themselves in that field,” said Raymond Lopez, a California-based concept artist who has worked with the Veterans Imagination Project since its inception.

“They can look at that picture and say, ‘This is my goal and I’m going to get there.’”

Lopez said he gathers information from participants regarding their profession, where they see themselves in the future and how they look in that job by creating a 3D rendering using a combination of software programs, including Photoshop, Blender and Lightroom.

“It can take days or weeks depending on the difficulty of the concept,” Lopez said, “but the end result is that it’s extremely helpful to people in the program. I’ve had several (students) reach out to me later and tell me how it inspired them.”

Lopez had the chance to meet a few of these participants in person at the Future Visions showcase held June 29 at the Coachs’ Club inside Sun Devil Stadium — and he wasn’t alone.

Attendees and partnersPartners of the Veterans Imagination Project include the Office of Veteran and Military Academic Engagement, The Pat Tillman Veterans Center, CommLab, the ASU Foundation, the Mesa Veterans Resource Center, the Arizona Coalition for Military Families and the Phoenix Veterans Center. from around ASU and across the community gathered to see Lopez’s art and learn from the students who collaborated with him, as a part of a culminating event sharing the methods and results of the Veterans Imagination Project.

It was there that Marine veteran and former project intern Scott Breshears admitted he didn’t find the program very helpful — at first.

He simply didn’t buy into the concept when he was discharged in 2020 after a five-year stint. He said he thought he “had his stuff together” and being in the program required imagination and vulnerability, which was “a side I didn’t flex very often.”

“Once I let that wall down and allowed myself to be vulnerable, the program offered a concrete vision of a future,” said Breshears, who received a degree in microbiology from ASU in 2022 and currently works for HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea Medical Center. He is also applying for medical school.

“When you have something concrete, then you can build on it.”

In the spring, Breshears returned to the Veterans Imagination Project as a volunteer peer mentor assisting others in the class.

Creating a meaningful path

The pilot program initially launched with three ASU student veterans.

Last spring, Beard and his team received a $50,000 grant from the ASU Foundation’s Women and Philanthropy and have expanded this work into the community with great success.

"The Veterans Imagination Project is an exciting opportunity for ASU Women and Philanthropy donors to support veterans in their transition from the armed services to civilian life," said Rebecca Baker, an ASU Women and Philanthropy donor and grant review committee member. "Offering more than educational opportunities, the program’s mission — to guide veterans toward creating a life path that is fulfilling — meets multiple needs of individuals departing military service. It is this totally unique approach to helping veterans, who give so much to our society, that appealed to Women and Philanthropy supporters."

Beard said the grant money enabled more service members to take part in workshops this past fall at the Mesa Veterans Resource Center and the CommLab at the ASU West campus. The workshops included ASU student veterans and former and active service members from the community.

Marissa Sanchez and Derek Wilson were beneficiaries of those workshops.

Sanchez, a Navy veteran who was in security forces, went in an entirely different direction when she was discharged in 2022. She enrolled in ASU’s College of Health Solutions to get a degree in food and nutrition entrepreneurship, and said the Veterans Imagination Project was the perfect complement to her degree.

“The program made me think more about the future of my profession,” said Sanchez, who has created a food preparation company. “There’s a very good possibility the food chain could be impacted in 10 years with over-resourcing, over-farming, overfishing and pollution. It made me really think about how this might impact my business and world nutrition.”

She’s already developed some signature dishes like huevo rancheros, squash blossoms and four different types of ceviche.

“I want people to get excited about food and get them to think of new ways to prepare and cook locally sourced food and vegetables. Basically, cook what’s around us each day,” she said. 

For Derek Wilson, the tastiest dish is redemption.

He served in the Air Force from 2003 to 2014 and worked in security forces as a canine handler detecting explosives. After five deployments in the Middle East, he was forced to medically retire after “physical and mental injuries” sustained on the battlefield. Afterward, substance abuse issues caused him to lose his house, and his wife and three children were homeless for several months.

“I went down a pretty dark path with the criminal justice system and ended up in jail one time; almost ended up in prison another time,” said Wilson, who is a student success advocate for ASU’s Pat Tillman Veterans Center. “I was at a point in my life where I had to make some pretty big decisions."

Wilson eventually got sober, found employment in social work and transferred from Glendale Community College to ASU in fall 2022. He participated in the ASU West campus cohort of the Veterans Imagination Project and graduated a few weeks ago. Like Breshears, he too was skeptical of the program.

“I’ve been working on my transition for years and I thought there’s no way Bob or anyone could teach me how to successfully transition in eight weeks,” Wilson said. “Bob said, ‘Transition is personal. I simply want you to be able to forecast what the future’s going to look like for you.’”

Wilson said that bit of wisdom was the turnaround for him. He began focusing on how artificial intelligence could enhance social work. He took courses on Google DeepMind, reached out to a renowned professor in the field and thought about how to advance his career — by creating an AI system that could help co-pilot social services.

“The system would basically listen and pick out key words and help fill in background information while the social worker can focus entirely on the client,” said Wilson, who has a 3.96 GPA and is three semesters away from collecting his diploma. “AI would be doing all the homework while the social worker can offer sympathy, support and build trust with the clients and have more meaningful conversations.”

Perhaps even more meaningful is the example Wilson is setting for his family.

“Now I go home, and my kids see my success and it makes them want to do well at school,” Wilson said. “Since I started ASU, my wife has also gone back to school. It seems the more I put into it, the more I’m getting out of it.”

Top photo: Marissa Sanchez, a third-year food and nutrition entrepreneurship student and a member of the current Veterans Imagination Project cohort, takes a picture of her imagined future during the Future Visions showcase on Thursday, June 29, in the Coachs' Club at Sun Devil Stadium. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News