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WMU expert to address world health meeting

April 14, 2006

KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University aviation safety expert will be in Washington, D.C., next week to tell those attending the Third Annual World Health Care Congress about research aimed at applying lessons learned in flight simulation systems to the task of improving patient safety.

Dr. William Hamman, co-director of WMU's Center of Excellence for Simulation Research in the College of Aviation, will speak at the April 17-19 event, which is expected to attract more than 1,500 CEOs, senior executives and government officials from hospitals, health systems, health plans, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, the nation's largest employers, and government agencies. The congress, co-sponsored by the Wall Street Journal, is one of the world's most prestigious gatherings of executives from all sectors of the health care arena.

Officials speaking to the congress include U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow; Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health; and Allan Hubbard, assistant for economic policy to President George W. Bush. Bush is expected to address the group through videotaped remarks during Hubbard's talk.

Hamman will speak as part of an executive seminar during the congress. The session will focus on "Advances in Patient Safety-Reporting, Simulation and Innovative Health System Improvements," and the moderator will be Dr. Dennis O'Leary, president and CEO of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

Hamman will discuss research being done by WMU's Center of Excellence for Simulation Research, which focuses on the use of medical simulations to improve patient care. Hamman and Dr. William Rutherford, who co-directs the center, have been testing simulation scenarios on teams in academic medical centers and regional health care systems. Better patient care, reduced health care costs and the possibility of developing spin-off companies that produce simulation hardware and simulation software and courseware packages are among the long-term outcomes Rutherford and Hamman see as a result of their work.

The pair has been working since 2005 with $2.79 million in funding from the Michigan Technology Tri-Corridor and matching funds totaling an additional $1.4 million from Battle Creek (Mich.) Unlimited and the Forest Park Foundation of Peoria, Ill.

Hamman came to WMU in 2004 from United Airlines, where he remains a senior international captain. He was a member of the Human Factors Subcommittee for administrator Jane Garvey of the Federal Aviation Administration, and is former chairperson of several Air Transport Association, NASA and Airline Pilot Association focus groups. In his prior research Hamman has been involved in the study of the long-term effects of weightlessness. That work was selected for NASA space program payloads.

Hamman earned a bachelor's degree from Purdue University and both a medical degree and a Ph.D. in medicine from the University of Wisconsin.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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