Dr. Junaid Nabi grew up in Kashmir, then and now a flashpoint for political upheaval. Now in Boston, he devotes his research and clinical work to answering one question that turns out to be universal: How can we make delivery of health care more equitable?
His father was a physician whose commitment to his patients inspired Nabi to pursue medicine as the single best way to help the people around him. Even though he was leaning toward aerospace engineering for its cool factor — as an undergraduate he entered a dual program in engineering and medicine — he chose medicine for the personal touch it promised.
During medical school in Bangladesh, he saw firsthand that medical or surgical interventions were not the sole factors in how patients fared. Instead, how much care they got was a function of what kind of resources — whether economic, social, or political — were available to them.
And that was no different in the United States, he found when he came to Harvard to study public health.
“People were still not able to access health care in the way that they should,” he said. “And even though there were resources, they were distributed in a way that there was this one chunk of people that had a lot and there was this one bigger chunk of people that did not have access.”
“We need to make sure that these algorithms are aware that there will be people with different backgrounds, with different identities.”
To erase such inequities, Nabi hopes to integrate technology, bioethics, and health policy so patients get the best care. He’s also studying automated medical decision-making systems and the potential for machine bias in health care.
“We need to make sure that these algorithms are aware that there will be people with different backgrounds, with different identities,” he said. “And we have to include all of them.”
— STAT Staff