Digital Health @ Harvard Brown Bag Lunch Series image

February 23, 2017 12:00 PM
Lectures and Panels
Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society
Harvard Law School, 23 Everett St., 2nd floor, Cambridge, MA

The Digital Health @ Harvard brown bag lunch series features speakers from Harvard as well as collaborators and colleagues from other institutions who research the intersection between health and digital technology. The series is cosponsored by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. The goal of the series is to discuss ongoing research in this research area, share new developments, identify opportunities for collaboration, and explore the digital health ecosystem more generally. 

These lunches are free and open to the public. 

Please bring your own lunch; light refreshments and snacks will be served.

This Month

With digitization and simultaneous democratization of the global information landscape, plus declining trust in media and health institutions, misinformation is pervasive. Audiences are forming homophilic social networks, reinforcing opportunities for selecting information that conforms to pre-existing beliefs, a phenomenon known as the creation of echo chambers. Echo chambers are not only problematic when misinformation reinforces certain beliefs, but they also make it difficult to disseminate evidence-based information broadly. In order to understand how public health echo chambers manifest themselves online, we used the Media Cloud suite of tools, an open access global archive of 5+ billion sentences from a set of 25,000 online information sources to conduct three mass media case studies on Ebola, Zika, and Vaccination. Our findings show that public health information networks are largely unsuccessful in driving an evidence-based information network narrative around any of our case study topics.

Based on these results, we invite participants to take part in a round table discussion, assessing the role that the online media ecosystem plays in creating, spreading, and reinforcing health information and misinformation. We hope to analyze together how communication theory and network science can support innovation and new online communication strategies for public health.


Natalie Gyenes is a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and a Research Affiliate at the MIT Media Lab.  Her work draws on experience in the fields of human rights, applied epidemiology, and behavioral science. Natalie's research focuses on how digital media portrays and influences issues of health equity and access, human rights and social norms. Natalie works to assess media influence - investigating the effects that different narratives and news frames have on public sentiment for global issues, and highlighting opportunities for impacting broader media dialogues. Before joining Berkman Klein, Natalie worked with the UN Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, developed guidelines for health professionals working with trauma-affected refugees, and, at the Harvard School of Public Health, created frameworks for co-designing health and rights programs.

Brittany Seymour is an Assistant Professor of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology at Harvard School of Dental Medicine with a research focus in interdisciplinary collaborations for health through innovative information dissemination and curriculum development.  She was the Inaugural Harvard Global Health Institute Fellow, where she launched the Harvard Health and Media collaborative and the Social Media and Health Fellowship program for students; fellows have worked on projects in the US, Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa. Her work has explored digital communication around water fluoridation, childhood vaccinations, the Ebola epidemic with fellow Berkman colleagues, and adolescent HIV/AIDS.  As a Berkman Fellow this year, she will explore online health information/misinformation and patient behaviors in the context of networked media theory and social network analysis. Her long term goals are to develop communication bundling strategies for whole health promotion and prevention.


The series consists of a monthly 60-minute brown bag lunch, which will take place on the last Thursday of each month throughout 2017, from 12-1pm. Additional dates are listed below. Please bring your own lunch; light refreshments and snacks will be served.

The lunches will begin with a 15-20 minute presentation by the speaker, followed by 40-45 minutes of discussion. The venue for the brown bags will rotate among various co-hosts. 

Additional Dates

  • Thursday, March 30, 12-1pm

  • Thursday, April 27, 12-1pm

  • Thursday, May 18, 12-1pm    (note: this date has been shifted due to Harvard's Commencement)

  • Thursday, June 29, 12-1pm

  • Thursday, July 27, 12-1pm

  • Thursday, August 31, 12-1pm

  • Thursday, September 28, 12-1pm

  • Thursday, October 26, 12-1pm

  • Thursday, November 30, 12-1pm

  • Thursday, December 21, 12-1pm (note: this date has been shifted due to Harvard's winter break)


digital health @ harvard   global health   health information technology   infectious diseases   public health   vaccines