Delivering Medicine and Michigan into Cyberspace
If you search for Mary Kratz in the U-M Online Directory, she modestly describes herself as “the vet’s wife.” It’s true that Kratz’s husband is an equestrian veterinarian in Manchester and they share a love of raising race horses. Yet, what she fails to mention is that she has another passion: helping the world share information using technology and cyberspace.
With a split appointment working for Medical School Information Services and the U.S. Department of Defense, Kratz helps keep U-M and the U.S. competitive in the future of science and technology.
Kratz loves to be on the leading edge of using advanced technology to deliver world-class health care around the globe. At the Medical School, she helps faculty navigate available IT services and identifies research and funding opportunities that meet national health care priorities (regenerative medicine and alternative forms of energy, to name two). A new program with MCIT will create the dynamic desktop environment that faculty members need to conduct complex research.
The U.S. government recognized Kratz’s unique skills and ability to collaborate with others, too, and asked her to partner in a worldwide initiative to use cyberinfrastructure to build the “HealthGrid.” Similar in concept to an electricity grid, a HealthGrid is a service for sharing computing capacity, analysis tools, datasets, collaboration and storage resources regardless of location. It links users into virtual organizations that can form and disband at need.
The result is an environment of shared resources in which biomedical data can be acquired, accessed, viewed, analyzed and stored by multiple, concurrent users. Building the HealthGrid will enhance and accelerate biomedical research and education, clinical and translational research, and clinical care. In Kratz’s view, those who participate and share data will have the edge.
“Hypothesis-driven research is being augmented by data-driven research methods. We need to ensure U-M has the capacity to be a good partner as both life science research and computational capacity scale up,” Kratz says. “HealthGrid will enable U-M medical teams to be equipped with the appropriate tools for the coming qualitative change in the way future medicine is conducted.”
Kratz now serves as the executive vice president of the HealthGrid. US Alliance, comprised of medical powerhouses U-M, Chicago, Stanford, USC, UPenn, OSU and Georgetown. Her work on the HealthGrid has led to her involvement in other government initiatives as well, including serving on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief where she works with foreign countries on HIV/AIDS prevention and keeps U-M involved through its Global REACH Partnership.