Kirsten Ostherr

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Kirsten Ostherr, PhD, MPH is a media scholar and health researcher whose work focuses on the challenge of making data into meaningful stories. She believes that most health problems are really communication and representation problems, and she uses collaborative, participatory design practices to solve these problems with her Rice University students and her colleagues in the Texas Medical Center.

Prof. Ostherr’s research has shown how information and communication technologies ranging from x-rays to motion pictures to fMRI and Facebook shape the ways that doctors and patients see health and disease. She thinks we can learn a lot about healthcare by looking at how we tell stories in other parts of our lives. She also thinks media may function through the placebo effect, and she is working on testing this hypothesis.

Kirsten Ostherr recently edited the collection, Applied Media Studies (Routledge, 2018). She is the author of two books, Medical Visions: Producing the Patient through Film, Television and Imaging Technologies (Oxford, 2013) and Cinematic Prophylaxis: Globalization and Contagion in the Discourse of World Health (Duke, 2005), as well as numerous articles and book chapters. She is currently doing research on information and communication technologies in end-of-life care, mHealth and the quantified self, and animation in science and medicine. She is Director and co-founder of the Medical Futures Lab, where she works to train future medical leaders to practice at the intersection of humanity and technology.

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