Q & A with SVP Partner Mike Hanlon
What are you currently working on, and how do you personally decide which projects to work on?
I work for the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. IHME is a global-health research institute and part of the University of Washington. My objective is to improve our knowledge of the costs of providing health care, especially in developing societies. In most developing countries, very little data exists about how much health care costs or how it is financed. So, I spend a lot of time traveling internationally to work with policy makers to help them collect better evidence on these issues.
The countries we work in are strategically selected to represent the heterogeneity in global health systems. In 2010, I traveled to Australia, Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, Indonesia, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Yemen and Zambia. In 2011, I'll return to many of those countries and also visit a few others, including India, Mali, Uganda, the Philippines and several former Soviet states.
What is one obstacle you face in your current job/project, and how do you plan to work around it?
Believe it or not, the greatest obstacle in my professional life is a lack of computing power. In developed countries like the United States, we have massive amounts of relatively good data. Yet to analyze the costs of care, we need to hold the quality of care constant. This is an intense statistical exercise, and even with powerful computers, it can take weeks for analyses to complete. That lag really hinders the scientific process. To realize the power of cloud computing, many techniques in applied statistics and machine learning need to evolve to capitalize on asynchronous processing. My colleagues and I spend a lot of time thinking about how to accomplish this in the context of our global-health analyses. Fortunately, there are lots of knowledgeable people around the UW and Seattle with an interest in helping us out.
What has been your most interesting experience thus far at SVP?
I've been part of several grant committees. At this point, the most interesting was the 1999 K-12 Education committee because enough time has passed that we can genuinely reflect on the impact we may (or may not) have had. The 2003 Education grant committee was also pretty interesting for the same reason.
Name three of your past/current mentors, or people you would love to have as mentors. Please explain why.
Several SVP partners have been fantastic mentors and sources of inspiration over the years. They include Sarah and Tim Cavanaugh, Ben and Lisa Slivka, Paul Shoemaker and Ron Tanemura, among others.
Favorite Seattle hangout?
How should other like-minded Partners/people get in touch with you?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.