Anika Heavener is one of a handful of MMSc-GHD students that has taken the program's part-time option that allows the program to be finished in 3 years instead of 2. Anika is the executive director of the enterprise data and digital health program (EDDH) at Partners HealthCare (MassGeneral Brigham). EDDH was started to knit together the wide variety of digital health projects across Partners and focus on two things: enabling new R&D-like innovations in digital health and scaling proven digital innovations across the system. Her thesis explores how collaborations are shaped between for-profit companies and state and local health communities for Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials in low- and middle-income countries. She hopes her work will begin to reveal how effective partnerships in clinical trials can contribute to health system capacity building for non-communicable diseases. The MMSc-GHD program reached out to Anika to learn more about what it's like to be a part-time student and a full-time leader in health care.
Why was getting a master’s degree important to you and your career?
Prior to coming to Partners, I consulted for the UK Department of Health supporting the creation of the Dementia Discovery Fund. The UK government was the cornerstone investor in the fund, along with six pharmaceuticals and UK dementia non-profits. We stood up the fund in 18 months with over $120M in the first close of capital. It was a “ah-ha” moment for me to see the power of public and private institutions coming together to de-risk a critical global health need with a solution that had benefits to all stakeholders – patients, researchers, investors, etc. I came to the MMSc-GHD program looking for a community that would help give me the resources, understanding, experience, etc. to do more of these partnership models throughout my career.
Out of the many offerings at Harvard, why did you choose the MMSc-GHD program?
What attracted me to the MMSc-GHD program was, first and foremost, the rich history and expertise of our department. It’s unparalleled. I also appreciated the program’s flexible design, not only allowing me to go part-time but also to take classes across Harvard and engage with the broader Harvard community. To date, beyond HMS, I’ve taken classes at the HSPH, HKS, HGSE, and HLS.
What about the MMSc-GHD program has surprised you the most?
The diversity of experiences that each of my classmates contribute. They each have such unique and varied perspectives on the realities of healthcare around the world and what it takes to make healthcare equitable for all. They consistently challenge my ideas and solutions, pushing my thinking to be more expansive but also grounded.
What sort of challenges have you faced being a part-time student?
There is a certain level of stamina required! There aren’t many days off but I love the hustle, and it requires me to be focused and committed to the things I do each day. More importantly, I’m only able to balance both work and school with the incredible support of my colleagues at Partners and the flexibility the MMSc-GHD program has offered me.
How would you say your everyday work has been impacted by the program?
I get to apply what I learn at Harvard immediately at work, and I get to share what I experience at work with my classmates. There are incredible and unexpected insights in blending my two (very different!) healthcare communities. While we approach care delivery with different needs, constraints, and expectations, at the core, there is an unwavering commitment to care for all.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
Think beyond what you aim to contribute to the program from your experience, perspectives, and interests and consider what you want the program to provide and equip you to do. The Harvard community is extensive and there is truly no limit to what you can learn and access – it’s an incredible privilege. How can MMSc-GHD enable you to create the greatest impact on global health? Your application should reflect the vision you see for yourself as a leader, advocate, and mentor in your health community and how you want to achieve it.
If you're interested in learning more about the part-time option for the MMSc-GHD program, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.