2023 Symposium

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3rd Annual Penn Medical Communication Research Institute Symposium

Social Media & Effective Medical Communication

Friday October 13, 2023

1:00-5:00 pm

Arthur H. Rubenstein Auditorium
Smilow Center For Translational Research
3400 Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104

This is a hybrid event 


1:00 pm: Introduction

Anne R. Cappola, MD, ScM

Director, Penn Medical Communication Research Institute and Professor of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

1:05 pm: Welcome 

Sarah Banet-Weiser, PhD

Walter H. Annenberg Dean and Lauren Berlant Professor of Communication, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania; Research Professor, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Session 1: Using social media for health messaging

1:10 pm: Robert Hornik, PhD

Wilbur Schramm Professor Emeritus of Communication and Health Policy, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

Effecting behavior change: Promote pro-behavior beliefs or counter-argue misinformation?

1:30 pm: Jeannette Sutton, PhD

Associate Professor, College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, Emergency Management and Homeland Security, University at Albany, State University of New York

Lessons from communicating in disaster contexts

1:50 pm: Tara Kirk Sell, PhD, MA

Senior Scholar and Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

Anticipatory approaches to misinformation and loss of trust

2:10 pm: Austin Chiang, MD, MPH

Chief Medical Social Media Officer, Jefferson Health; Assistant Professor, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital; Chief Medical Officer, Gastrointestinal, Medtronic; Founding Director, Association of Healthcare Social Media

Physician influencers on social media

2:30 pm: Panel discussion

2:55 pm: Break

Session 2: Tailoring messages to diverse social media audiences

3:10 pm: Sharath Chandra Guntuku, PhD

Research Assistant Professor, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Pennsylvania

Computational social listening to inform public health using social media

3:30 pm: Ava Kikut-Stein, PhD

Research Fellow, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Integrating Health Communication & Youth Participatory Action Research to Improve Youth Health

3:50 pm: Terri Lipman, PhD, CRNP, FAAN

Professor Emerita, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania; Researcher, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

VaxUpPhillyFamilies:  Engaging community members as public health messengers

4:10 pm: Andy Tan, PhD, MPH, MBA, MBBS

Associate Professor of Communication, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

Co-designing anti-tobacco social media messages with LGBTQ+ youth

4:30 pm: Panel discussion

5:00 pm: RECEPTION



Anne R. Cappola, MD, ScM

Executive Director, Penn Medical Communication Research Institute

Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism

Director of Clinical Research, Department of Medicine

University of Pennsylvania

Anne Cappola, MD, ScM, is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism; Executive Director of the Penn Medical Communication Research Institute, Director of Clinical Research in the Department of Medicine, and Director of the CTSA-funded Center for Human Phenomic Science at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Cappola directs an NIH-funded research program focused on the hormonal alterations that occur with aging and the clinical impact of these changes. Dr. Cappola is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, and the Interurban Clinical Club and an Associate Editor for JAMA. She has received the   Abbott Thyroid Research Mentor Award from the Endocrine Society, the American Thyroid Association’s Van Meter Award, and the American Statistical Association Outstanding Statistical Application Award. She is a graduate of Harvard College, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Austin Chiang, MPH, MD 

Chief Medical Social Media Officer, Jefferson Health

Director of the Endoscopic Bariatric Program, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

Founding President, Association for Healthcare Social Media

Austin Chiang, MD, MPH  is a triple board-certified, dual ivy-league (Harvard, Columbia) educated and trained gastroenterologist and advanced endoscopist who is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Jefferson Health (Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals) in Philadelphia, PA, and serves as the Director of the Endoscopic Weight Loss Program and Chief Medical Social Media Officer for the health system.  He founded the first non-profit professional society for health professional social media use, called the Association for Healthcare Social Media (AHSM). In October 2021, he became the first Chief Medical Officer of the gastrointestinal business for Medtronic, the world’s leading medical device company responsible for products including Barrx radiofrequency ablation devices, Pillcam capsule endoscopy products, EndoFLIP, Bravo, Sharkcore, and GI Genius the first-to-market AI-assisted polyp detection device to help endoscopists better prevent colon cancer. Dr. Chiang's interests include novel endoscopic weight loss treatments as well as the complex interventional endoscopic procedures including the diagnosis and treatment of various gastrointestinal conditions and their complications. These include a variety of cancers affecting the gastrointestinal tract such as the pancreas, bile duct, esophagus, stomach, colon, and liver cancers.


Sharath Chandra Guntuku, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Computer and Information Science
School of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Pennsylvania

Sharath Chandra Guntuku, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the research track in the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on building predictive models for and uncovering insight into health outcomes and psychological states of individuals and communities. Dr. Guntuku develops computational models utilizing large-scale user-generated text, image, and mobile sensor data to answer questions pertaining to geospatial, cross-cultural, and temporal aspects of human behavior. He is affiliated as a research scientist at the Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health and works closely with the World Well Being Project at the Positive Psychology Center. He is also affiliated with Penn Research in Machine Learning. Dr. Guntuku’s recent work investigates the manifestation of loneliness, ADHD, stress, and depression on social media platforms and the role of heterogeneity in the digital behaviors of individuals across cultures. The resulting insights have the potential to supplement clinical diagnoses, facilitate early and personalized interventions, and improve treatments.


Robert C. Hornik, PhD

Wilbur Schramm Professor Emeritus of Communication and Health Policy

Annenberg School for Communication 
University of Pennsylvania

Robert Hornik is the Wilbur Schramm Professor Emeritus of Communication and Health Policy at the Annenberg School for Communication. He has been Principal Investigator for more than $40 million in NIH and USAID funding. He has led the evaluation of more than 20 public health communication campaigns throughout the world including those focused on child survival, HIV prevention, and tobacco use. He is the author of Development Communication (University Press Of America, 1993), edited Public Health Communication: Evidence for Behavior Change (Routledge, 2002), and co-edited Prediction and Change of Health Behavior (Psychology Press, 2007), as well as more than 150 refereed articles and papers. He has served on five US National Academy of Sciences Committees, is a Fellow of the International Communication Association, and received the Derryberry Award from the American Public Health Association and the Lindback award for distinguished teaching at Penn. He was co-director of the Penn Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) from 2013-2018, and he led the Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research (CECCR) at Penn from 2003-2014. Recently completed research examined how Americans are affected by their exposure to information about cancer prevention, screening, and treatment. Current research projects include: 1) a multi-year study of the effects of new and old media content on tobacco beliefs and behavior among youth and young adults, 2) COVID-related survey research about the behavioral effects of misinformation, and 3) development and validation of methods to choose preferred message themes for communication campaigns.


Terri Lipman, PhD, CRNP, FAAN
Professor of Nursing of Children
Assistant Dean for Community Engagement
University of Pennsylvania
Miriam Stirl Endowed Term Professor of Nutrition
Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Terri Lipman, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, is the Assistant Dean for Community Engagement, the Miriam Stirl Endowed Term Professor of Nutrition, and a Professor of Nursing of Children at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. She is also a Professor of Pediatric Nursing in Perelman School of Medicine, a Senior Fellow in the Center for Public Health Initiatives and a Distinguished Fellow of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Additionally, Dr. Lipman is a nurse practitioner in the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Dr. Lipman’s major areas of research include the epidemiology of diabetes and assessment of growth in children. She developed and maintains the Philadelphia Pediatric Diabetes Registry, the longest ongoing such registry in the country. Dr. Lipman’s multicenter study on the accuracy of growth assessment resulted in the Linear Growth Assessment Program and has been used in 65 cities in the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, and Latin America. Currently, Dr. Lipman is investigating racial disparities in children with endocrine disorders and addressing social determinants of health using a Community Based Participatory Research framework. She was funded by NIH-NICHD to study an Academic/Community Partnership to Increase Activity in Youth and their Families, and by Chair’s Initiative at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for a randomized controlled trial entitled: “Community Health Worker (CHW) Initiative: Enhanced Care Management for Complex Patients.”


Ava Kikut-Stein, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Ava Kikut-Stein is a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and a recent alumnus of the Annenberg School for Communication. Dr. Kikut-Stein integrates quantitative communication research methods and community-based participatory action approaches to addressing health inequalities at the local and population level. As Provost Graduate Academic Engagement Fellow at Penn, Dr. Kikut-Stein partnered with the Netter Center for Community Partnerships to develop a series of paid high school research internships and parallel academic-based community service undergraduate curriculum focused on health communication and youth participatory action research. Through these programs, teams of Philadelphia high school students and Penn undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty collaborated to conduct health communication research and develop data-informed social media messages addressing youth-identified health priorities, including mental health and COVID-19 vaccination. Dr. Kikut-Stein has co-authored and co-presented this work with high school and undergraduate students. As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Kikut-Stein is applying youth participatory action research to inform cancer prevention communication research. 


Tara Kirk Sell, PhD, MA 
Senior Scholar
Associate Professor
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Tara Kirk Sell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and a Senior Associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She conducts research to develop a greater understanding of potentially large-scale health events such as disease outbreaks, bioterrorism, natural disasters, or radiological/nuclear events. Dr. Sell’s work focuses on improving public health policy and practice in order to reduce the health impacts of disasters and terrorism. She works on qualitative and quantitative research analyses and uses this research to assist in the development of strategy and policy recommendations. Her primary research interests include biosecurity and biodefense, public health preparedness, emerging infectious disease, federal funding and budgeting, and nuclear preparedness policy and practice. She also serves as an Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Health Security (formerly Biosecurity and Bioterrorism).


Jeannette Sutton, PhD, MA

Associate Professor
College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity
Emergency Management and Homeland Security
University at Albany, State University of New York

Jeannette Sutton, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Director of the Informatics Ph.D. program in the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity at the University at Albany, SUNY. Dr. Sutton specializes in disaster and risk with a primary focus on online informal communication, and public alerts and warning disseminated via terse messaging channels. Much of her research investigates the evolving role of information and communication technology, including social media and mobile devices, for disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.
Jeannette is a member of the National Construction Safety Team Advisory Board at NIST and the Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications Working Group for DHS S&T. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and completed her postdoctoral training at the Natural Hazards Center.

Andy Tan, PhD, MPH, MBA, MBBS 
Associate Professor of Communication

Annenberg School for Communication
University of Pennsylvania

Andy Tan, Ph.D., MPH, MBA, MBBS, is Associate Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication. Tan’s research program is aimed at advancing communication science to achieve health equity for all. His work examines the impact of marketing, media, and public health messages on health behaviors and outcomes among diverse populations including young adult, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations. He conducts community-engaged research involving organizations that serve LGBT communities to design and develop culturally appropriate communication interventions that are informed by persuasion and message effects theories, social determinants of health frameworks, and implementation science. He utilizes mixed-methods research designs, including sequential designs integrating multiple data collection and analytic methods (e.g., social media and news content analysis, qualitative interviews and focus groups, digital photovoice and diaries, online surveys, and randomized experimental designs). The goal of this work is to translate this knowledge into scalable and culturally sensitive communication interventions to alleviate tobacco- and cancer-related health disparities.