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Previous Events

An annual event, Making the Connections is made possible by an unrestricted educational grant from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals.


Making the Connections 2017: Opioid Use

Mayes Connections Opioids

The ground-breaking 2016 Surgeon General’s Report “Facing Addiction” states that a public health approach to the opioid epidemic requires integrating substance use disorder services into the mainstream health care system, disrupting the largely separate system previously in place. Decades of research do not support the misconceptions that alcohol and drug problems are a character flaw or "willful rejection of social norms” but are a disease of the brain, that can be successfully treated with a comprehensive medical approach, just like other chronic conditions.

In Pennsylvania, and across the country, there is a significant dichotomy between science and practice. Policymakers now promote evidence-based treatments, especially medications, in addition to behavioral therapies, yet policies in place prevent access to treatment for millions of individuals.  How are these contradictions being addressed?  Do state policies work with the federal policies?  How do local policies work within the larger policies? Please join us as federal, state and city policymakers give us their perspectives on tackling this widespread concern.


Gail Groves Scott MPH’16
Health Policy Fellow in Addiction Studies

Special Guest
Brooke M. Feldman, BSW
Person in long-term recovery and Director of Recovery Support and Health Promotion, Achara Consulting

Lauren S. Hughes, MD, MPH, MSc, FAAFP
Deputy Secretary for Health Innovation at the Pennsylvania Department of Health

Tom Farley, MD, MPH
Commissioner of Health, City of Philadelphia

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Making the Connections 2016: Biosimilars

Making the Connections Biosimilars

Biosimilars are biological products approved by the FDA that are "highly similar" to an FDA-approved product with respect to safety and effectiveness. While agents such as these have been available in Europe for more than a decade, the introduction of them into the US market place is not without controversy.

Biosimilar manufacturers are faced with regulations that impede product marketing and payers, while anticipating the benefits of access to lower cost medications to patients, are concerned about interchangeability, safety and acceptance by the medical community and the patients they serve. This program will examine how each of these stakeholders views the introduction of biosimilars in the U.S. and how they anticipate the market place to evolve in the next few years.


Michael E. Castagna P’00, PharmD, MBA
Mesfin Tegenu, MS, RPh
PerformRx, LLC.

Robert I. Field, JD, MPH, PhD Drexel University


Making the Connections 2015: Obesity

Obesity graphic

A variety of factors play a role in obesity, including the interplay of the environment and genetics. Compounding these natural variations are widespread marketing practices confusingly focused on both healthy and non-healthy foods and a multitude of weight loss strategies in spite of an increasing sedentary lifestyle. The consequences of these marketing practices, food and lifestyle choices, and natural factors is an increase in the number of Americans, adults and children alike, who are overweight and/or obese. This presents major challenges to those in the healthcare industry, not only from a public and policy perspective, but from a business perspective. This program will examine just some of the challenges facing practitioners, policy makers, and businesses regarding the epidemic of obesity.

Michael F. Jacobson, PhD
Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest

David L. Katz, MD, MPH
Center Director, Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center

Karin Richards, MS, CWP, CWPC, NSCA, ACSM
ACE Chair, Department of Kinesiology
Samson College of Health Science, University of the Sciences

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Making the Connections 2014: Social Media in Healthcare

Social Media Graphic

Social media use is growing exponentially and nearly 75 percent of all adults seek health information online. Pharmaceutical companies and public health organizations are well poised to provide this information to patients. But is the information obtained accurate, reliable, and fair balanced? The recently issued FDA draft guidance is intended to help, but there still exists confusion and concern. Today's panel of national experts will address how social media is used to communicate and improve the health of populations of patients, what the regulations are regarding communicating with patients, and what patients can expect from the public health and the pharmaceutical industries.


Paul Buckman, MSDirector, Online Communications, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Murray Aitken, MBA Executive Director, IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics
John Driscoll, BA Regulatory Affairs Consultant

Claudia Parvanta, PhD
Professor and Chair of Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences

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Making the Connections 2013: Comparative Effectiveness Research

Comparative graphic

Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) is just a single step in a series of advances in medicine seeking to better understand "value" at the patient level. After more than three decades of double digit growth in healthcare spending, CER is the next logical step, and likely not the last. The aging population, increase in covered lives, and most notably a vast array of advances in healthcare technology, have inevitably lead us to the point of needing a far more practical and "real world" understanding of how different treatment choices can impact patient level outcomes.


David Hickam, MD, MPH
Program Director, Assessment of Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options Program
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

Michael W. Painter, JD, MD
Senior Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Brian Sweet, RPh, MBA
Executive Director, Healthcare Alliances, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, LP

Steven Udvarhelyi, MD
Executive Vice President, Health Services, and Chief Strategy Officer, Independence Blue Cross

Jean-Paul Gagnon, PhD
Senior Director, U.S. Policy and Strategic Advocacy, Sanofi (retired)

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Making the Connections 2012: Personalized Medicine

Personalized medicine graphic

Advances in fields such as genetics and genomics have created new opportunities for personalized medicine applications in clinical practice and healthcare delivery. This conference, featuring a panel of renowned speakers, provides an engaging update of the field of personalized medicine and explores the field from the perspectives of business, economics, public health, and health policy.


Stephen Kimmel, MD, MSCE
Professor of Medicine and Professor of Epidemiology
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Personalized Medicine: The Promise and the State of the Science

Michael F. Christman, PhD
President and CEO, Coriell Institute for Medical Research
Measuring the Value of Personalized Medicine: Economic and Business Perspectives

Amalia M. Issa, PhD, MPH
Professor and Chair, Department of Health Policy and Public Health
Enabling the Future of Healthcare: Public Health and Policy Issues in Personalized Medicine

George E. Downs, PharmD
Dean Emeritus, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (PCP) at USciences
Professor of Clinical Pharmacy

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