By Linda Bordoni
At its fourth edition, the international “Unite to Cure” conference sees the presence of leading experts in the fields of health, media, entertainment and technology. Faith-based organizations and government representatives are also present to examine the role of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and big data in health care delivery, and to discuss how technology can be used to extend health care access to less developed nations and to the under-served.
Pope Francis is scheduled to meet all participants of the Unite to Cure conference on Saturday morning.
Professor David Pearce is the Executive Vice President of Research at Sanford Health, one of the largest health care systems in the United States.
His expertise lies in children’s health and he told Vatican News about his contribution to the conference:
Professor Pierce explained his specific background is in rare diseases of children, and that overall, he oversees all the clinical trials and all the basic and transitional research at Sanford Health.
At the confernence, he said, he is present in two roles:
“To push the agenda in terms of how we are really leading the cutting edge in curing children with these debilitating rare disease” he said.
And in demonstrating how you can integrate a health system into a research programme or vice-versa:
“research is the way forward – treatments and cures of tomorrow are what we are developing - but how to actually activate them and get them rolling in a health system, working with the many aspects of a health system is an important way forward” he said.
Finding the cure is a team sport
Professor Pierce describes medical research as a team sport: “Research is a team sport, curing people is a team sport! So we are here to build partnerships and collaborations, to learn from others and maybe teach others as well”.
Speaking of some of the major challenges he faces Pierce points out that it is fortunate that rare diseases are in fact rare, but this means that it is very hard to work on diseases that affect few patients.
That’s why, he says, at Sanford we have a very good telemedicine programme through which we can learn to study children across the US “because you don’t want to start moving them around when they are sick; you need to be able to study them and to be able to communicate with the physicians throughout the country, and you need to be able to communicate what those treatments and advances are as quickly as possible”.