2020 Keynote Speakers

Michael Diefenbach, PhD, will Accelerate our Science

When: Thursday, April 2, 5 - 6 p.m.

Session title: Accelerating our Science: Provocative Questions in Behavioral Medicine

A little about his talk: What does behavioral medicine of the future look like? What kind of research will we be doing? SBM President Michael Diefenbach, PhD, will present the results of the Provocative Questions in Behavioral Medicine initiative. This crowdsourced multi-stage effort involved the full SBM membership and will provide a glimpse into the future of behavioral medicine. Attendees will be informed about the methodology and results of the provocative questions initiative. Attendees will learn about future directions of behavioral medicine and efforts we might undertake to meet future challenges.

Dr. Diefenbach is a professor in the Departments of Medicine, Urology, and Psychiatry at Northwell Health and the School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in New York. He is director of behavioral research in the Departments of Medicine and Urology, and academic director of the Faculty Research Career Development Program. He is a founding member of the Center of Health Innovation and Outcomes Research, and co-directs the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the Monter Cancer Center. He has more than 20 years of federally funded research in behavioral medicine in the areas of treatment decision making, quality of life, and cancer prevention and control.  He has published more than 80 peer reviewed articles and edited the Handbook of Medical Decision Sciences.


Michael Diefenbach, PhD



Kara Hall, PhD, will Help Us Forge Forward Together

When: Wednesday, April 1, 5 - 6 p.m.

Session title: Forging Forward Together: Transforming Scientific Practice to Accelerate Scientific Progress

A little about her talk: Today we face the challenge of modernizing legacy approaches of yesterday to enable us to address our increasingly complex health problems of tomorrow. Our behavioral medicine community has the opportunity to collectively re-envision, influence, and forge paths through deeply entrenched systems that can hinder scientific progress. These systems include structures in academia, policies for rewarding and recognizing researchers, approaches to pedagogy, training, and development, and infrastructures for and uses of technologies. Through the lens of cross-disciplinary team science, Kara Hall, PhD, will explore opportunities to accelerate our science and reflect on the use of science to transform the way we do science.

Dr. Hall is a health scientist, director of the Science of Team Science (SciTS) Team, and director of the Theories Initiative at the National Cancer Institute. She helped launch the Science of Team Science field through her leadership in conducting empirical studies, developing conceptual frameworks, creating evidence-based strategies and resources, editing special journal issues, chairing the Annual SciTS Conferences, and serving as founding board member of INSciTS. As a member of The National Academies Committee on Science of Team Science, she co-authored the report Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science (one of the top 25 most downloaded National Academies Press reports). She is contributing editor of the recently published book: Strategies for Team Science Success: Handbook of Evidence-Based Principles for Cross-Disciplinary Science and Practical Lessons Learned from Health Researchers. During her career, Dr. Hall has also contributed to advancing health behavior research, implementation science, systems science approaches, and research on healthcare teams.


Kara Hall, PhD

Ruha Benjamin, PhD, will Take Us Beyond Buzzwords

When: Thursday, April 2, 9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Session title: Beyond Buzzwords: Innovation, Inequity, and Imagination in the 21st Century

A little about her talk: From precision medicine to predictive algorithms, science and technology seek to address a variety of human problems by producing data and tools to help us understand our world and ourselves. But without careful consideration of the social dimensions of innovation, we risk reinforcing longstanding forms of inequality and injustice, and even producing new forms of discrimination that are hidden behind a veneer of technological neutrality. In this talk, Ruha Benjamin, PhD, will examine a range of contemporary issues at the nexus of data and democracy—from DNA databases to targeted advertising—so we can think together about the social values embedded in these platforms and systems. Her aim is to expand our collective imagination around what counts as relevant and meaningful to scholarly and public debates, so a greater array of people can shape the world we inhabit.

Dr. Benjamin is a sociologist who has studied the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine for the past 15 years. She has published three books and numerous articles on the topic. She is an associate professor in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University, where she studies the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine, race and citizenship, knowledge and power. She is also the founder of the JUST DATA Lab and a faculty associate in the Center for Information Technology Policy, Program on History of Science, Center for Health and Wellbeing, Program on Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Department of Sociology. She serves on the executive committees for the Program in Global Health and Health Policy and Center for Digital Humanities. Dr. Benjamin is the author of three books; People’s Science, Captivating Technology, and Race After Technology.


Ruha Benjamin, PhD

Danielle Schlosser, PhD, will Focus on Technology and Healthcare

When: Friday, April 3, 9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Session title: Tech and Healthcare: Harmonizing Disciplines to Revolutionize Behavioral Medicine

A little about her talk: Dr. Schlosser will provide an overview of the state of health in the US and the startling rise in midlife mortality from deaths of despair. She will highlight some promising approaches that signal the key ingredients to tackling these intractable challenges. A key focus of her talk will be how Verily (formerly Google's Life Sciences) uses technological advances to conduct and implement behavioral medicine research in the fast-paced real world--with key examples from the new project, OneFifteen, that addresses the opioid epidemic in the US.

Dr. Danielle Schlosser is a Senior Clinical Scientist at Verily Life Sciences, an Alphabet company. Dr. Schlosser acts as the Clinical Lead, overseeing the tech-enabled behavioral health portfolio. Prior to joining Verily, she was an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco Weill Institute for Neurosciences and the Director of an NIMH-funded translational neuroscience lab. Dr. Schlosser’s lab developed digital therapeutics for individuals with serious mental illness. Her work has been featured in several media outlets including, CNNTechnical TimesFortune Magazine, and the Pacific Standard.  Dr. Schlosser serves as Board Chair of OneFifteen, as well as a member of the Mental Health America Board of Directors, Member of the World Economic Forum Global Futures Council on Mental Health and Technology; USC Schaeffer Center as a Scientific Advisor, and remains a faculty mentor for several fellowship programs at UCSF, including the distinguished ACGME Clinical Informatics Fellowship Program; the Clifford Attkinson Clinical Services Research Training Program; and the Psychology and Medicine: An Integrative Research Approach fellowship.


Danielle Schlosser, PhD

Innovators will Explore Artificial Intelligence

When: Friday, April 3, 5 - 6:15 p.m.

Session title: Artificial Intelligence in Medicine: Hope, Hype, or Harm?

A little about this talk: In 2015, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and dozens of the world’s top visionaries in artificial intelligence (AI) signed an open letter declaring “a broad consensus that AI research is progressing steadily, and that its impact on society is likely to increase.” Precisely because these capabilities are now expanding beyond the hypothetical, though, the letter went on to say “it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.” The potential for both good and harm from these disruptive technologies is enormous. Understanding the future of these systems requires urgent, cross-disciplinary conversation. This panel will bring together three pioneering voices across the fields of computational science, behavioral medicine, and healthcare to identify the provocative questions that are urgently needed to guide the evolution of “intelligent systems” in medicine.

In his own words: I have more than 30 years of experience with technology in IBM, participating directly in the resurgence of AI in recent years. I specialize in technology in healthcare research and lead a research team of over 30 researchers at my lab. I continue to supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students, and lecture as time permits. I have authored several peer reviewed papers exploiting the specific technologies that will be discussed in this session. I am a regular expert presenter on this topic within IBM Research and externally.


Pól Mac Aonghusa, PhD

In her own words: I am co-director of an MSc and run annual international summer schools in behavior change. I have experience as a principal investigator with the Human Behavior Change Project leading the Computer Science Research team. I was a research leader for the ProAct EUH2020 applying AI to assisted living for populations with multiple co-morbidities. I have more than 30 years of technology experience with IBM where I continue to be an active researcher publishing in topics related to accountability and privacy in AI. I am currently leading a variety of research projects investigating applications of AI to medicine, most recently, in 2018, winning a grant of more than $5 million euros to investigate detection and classification of cancerous tissue during surgery. 


Susan Michie, BA, MPhil, DPhil

In his own words: I have 30 years of experience as a clinical educator as a faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco where I am a professor and chair of the Department of Medicine. I am the author of 250 articles and six books. I have served on the healthcare advisory boards of several companies, including Google.


Robert Wachter, MD

Laura Carstensen, PhD, will Examine Longevity

When: Saturday, April 4, 11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

Session title: Longevity in the 21st Century

A little about her talk: Life expectancy nearly doubled in the last century. This talk will address the reasons for the increase and the ways in which longevity will likely change our lives.

Dr. Carstensen is a professor in public policy at Stanford University where she is also the founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. For more than 25 years she has been researching increasing life expectancy to improve the quality of lives of the aging population. She has served on the National Advisory Council on Aging and the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on an Aging Society. In 2016 she was inducted into the National Academy of Medicine.


Laura Carstensen, PhD