Three USC Schaeffer Center Senior Fellows who have received new appointments at the Price School of Public Policy were recognized Feb. 13 at a Town and Gown reception for their cutting-edge work on national health policy challenges.
Schaeffer Center Director Dana Goldman said that the three honorees—Wändi Bruine de Bruin, MSc, PhD, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, PhD, and Jason Doctor, PhD—are “pursing work that is making an impact on policies at all levels of government, from L.A. County to Washington D.C and around the globe.”
Bruine de Bruin was recently named Provost Professor of Public Policy, Psychology and Behavioral Science. Pacula is the inaugural holder of the Elizabeth Garrett Chair in Health Policy, Economics and Law. Doctor holds the Norman Topping National Medical Enterprise Chair in Medicine and Public Policy.
USC Provost Charles Zukoski introduced Bruine de Bruin, noting that she joins a cadre of only 17 faculty at USC who have been named Provost Professor. These are “outstanding transdisciplinary scholars who contribute to USC and enrich our academic culture of research and education that cuts across fields—our culture of true collaboration.”
Prior to joining USC in January 2020, Bruine de Bruin was the Director of Center for Decision Research and a Professor of Behavioral Decision Making at University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. Her work focuses on understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, and interventions to help people make better decisions in the future. From this vantage point, she has delved into issues of healthcare, well-being and personal finance, and environmental impacts and climate change.
Bruine de Bruin’s work “helps develop interventions that guide us all toward making better decisions,” said Zukoski. He noted that she has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers and serves on the editorial boards of multiple journals.
Bruine de Bruin said she is looking forward to “bringing together behavioral scientists across USC to increase the visibility of this field” and expand the real-world applications of this work.
Jack Knott, Dean of the Sol Price School of Public Policy, praised Doctor as “someone who exemplifies what we are trying to do at Price—to educate the next generation of healthcare scholars and leaders, to contribute important research to advance knowledge in the field, and to make a positive difference in our communities.”
He noted that Doctor received the Price School Faculty High Impact Research Award following his work in San Diego County, where he evaluated the policy benefits of sending letters to doctors notifying them of a death of a patient due to an opioid overdose. The study found that doctors who received these letters decreased their opioid prescriptions.
Before coming to USC, Topping ran the laboratory at the National Institutes of Health aimed at controlling infectious diseases. “We can see that it is still a problem,” Doctor said, during his remarks. Among many issues, people still need help understanding the dangers of opioids, why washing hands is a simple but powerful disrupter of disease, and how damaging misinformation about vaccines gets spread in the media. “This century will be about using behavioral science to help solve these problems,” he said.
Pacula was introduced by Leonard D. Schaeffer, Chair of the Schaeffer Center Advisory Board and holder of the USC Judge Robert Maclay Widney Chair. Schaeffer and his wife Pamela established the Garrett Chair in honor of the late Elizabeth Garrett, who was the first female provost at USC from 2010 to 2015, and subsequently the first female president of Cornell University.
“I worked very closely with Elizabeth when we started the Schaeffer Center at USC,” Schaeffer said. “I’m especially pleased to have her name associated with the Center in perpetuity.”
Pacula’s work, he said, has received national attention and “she has been in touch with policymakers in several states, as well as the CDC and the FDA. I am very proud to have Dr. Pacula in the Elizabeth Garrett chair.”
Much of Pacula’s research examines markets that have often been overlooked or misunderstood – such as markets for addictive substances – and the policy and social implications of these markets.
Pacula, in her remarks, said she sees addiction as both a health issue— “it affects so many other diseases and makes quality care difficult”—and a social issue that impacts employment, families and housing. “I have landed in the perfect place” at the USC Price School and the Schaeffer Center to do the interdisciplinary work necessary for a topic like addiction that is so complicated, she added.
“The honorees personify what we aim to accomplish at the Schaeffer Center,” said Goldman. “Namely to improve value in health through research and analysis that addresses pressing policy questions.”