Bill Stead does a lot of thinking about connections.
As director of Vanderbilt Medical Center’s Informatics
Center , he’s in charge of managing an information technology
infrastructure that supports Vanderbilt’s patient care,
research and educational programs.
As chairman of the Vanderbilt Center for Better Health , he
also oversees efforts designed to help transform the nation’s
health care system and accelerate improvements in health care
But although he describes himself as an optimist, Stead
worries that the United States is “drifting towards … a whole
series of national-scale crises,” not only in health care, but
in education, infrastructure, energy and the environment.
“We’ve now had a decade of one bubble after another,” he
explains. “We’re getting people who are experts at making
money out of chaos … (but) I think as a society we’ve really
lost our ability to do anything important.
“We did take on high performance computing as a challenge a
number of years ago. We did take on the human genome. (But)
I’m not aware that we’ve done anything since then that has
been taken on as a national grand challenge.
“It’s not all about science. I believe it’s a much broader