Incoming: Janet Hart from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, United States

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Janet Hart, MA, PhD, is a Professor of Biology and Director of the Faculty Mentoring Institute at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston.

Photo : Janet Hart © université de Bordeaux
Janet Hart © université de Bordeaux

Prof. Hart arrived in Bordeaux in January 2023 for an 8-month stay. Her research focuses on two areas:

  • the intersection of genetic technologies (genetic testing, vaccination) and public health,
  • the multiple dimensions of pedagogy (problem-based learning, teaching with technology, science communication).

What are your objectives for your stay in Bordeaux and what are you hoping to accomplish?

I am hoping that this is the beginning of a new chapter in my academic career and of long-term collaborations with the University of Bordeaux. When I lived in France before, I was a doctoral student at the Université de Paris XI (Paris Saclay) in the field of microbial genetics, and then a young mother. The care and support I received here in France with respect to both of those roles was exceptional. Now that I am farther along in my career and have more to offer, I am looking forward to repaying my debt of gratitude for that time.  

I am excited to be working with Prof. Stephanie Debette and the ELEANOR team within the Bordeaux Population Health (BPH) research centre, exploring how precision public health can improve health disparities with respect to stroke and dementia. I am also hoping to gain a better understanding of vaccine hesitancy in France (which has one of the highest hesitancy levels globally) through a public health lens.

Additionally, I am planning some pedagogical activities both at the Bordeaux School of Public Health (ISPED) and the regional STL (biotechnology baccalaureate) lycée programmes for the Southwest of France, sharing some of my work with problem-based learning using case studies.  

In addition to my public health research and pedagogical work, I am very much looking forward to participating in ENLIGHT activities (European university Network to promote equitable quality of Life, sustaInability and Global engagement through Higher education Transformation). The ENLIGHT teaching and research collaborations are inspiring and are so desperately needed to solve the major problems (climate change, pandemic prevention, and health equity) humanity is facing. I would love to see the United States more involved in international collaborations such as this.  

What are your impressions of the University of Bordeaux, the people, the city?

From the moment I arrived, I felt at home with the relaxed warmth of the people, beautiful sights of the city, and amazing cultural experiences (especially related to food and wine). Even after only being here a few weeks, I have been impressed by the people I have met at BPH/ISPED. No one is too busy to reach out or have conversations to help me feel at ease. One of my favorite things about being a university professor is mentoring young people and I can already see that this is an important part of the culture at BPH/ISPED.

One of my favorite things about being a university professor is mentoring young people and I can already see that this is an important part of the culture at BPH/ISPED.

What have you learnt so far from this international experience?

Public health is about making it easier for people to make choices that are healthier for themselves, their families, and the environment... Bordeaux is a perfect example of this. It is so much easier for me to have a healthy lifestyle here, on many levels: walking everywhere, eating well, recycling, and reducing stress through cultural pursuits.