Independent Minds, Working Together
Jane Morley Kotchen

Jane Morley Kotchen '60

Professor of Epidemiology, Medical College of Wisconsin

The medical discipline called clinical translational science might sound esoteric, but as soon as you understand what it is, you know why Jane Morley Kotchen’60 cites it as a perfect example of independent minds, working together. The discipline is included in the course offering of the master’s degree program in epidemiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, which Kotchen developed and directs.

Clinical translational scienceis just what it says it is: Translating scientific discoveries into practical applications, a process that requires thinking creatively and collaboratively. “We train individuals to think beyond the boundaries of their particular focus,” says Kotchen. She gives a case study example: “Think about patients who are immobile and the kinds of devices they might need to make their lives easier – for example something that would help them take a shower. To design a solution, the creative problem solver will seek input from engineers, doctors, nurses, caregivers, and the patient.”

Students who excel in her classes, says Kotchen, are innovative thinkers who have been exposed to and understand a variety of disciplines.

In addition to her work as an administrator and professor of population health, Kotchen is an oft-cited researcher in the areas of women’s health and high blood pressure in African Americans. Her studies explore the relationship between diet, vitamin supplementation, and hormone replacement and diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, fractures, and dementia.  She received her M.D. degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and her Master’s of Public Health from the University of North Carolina.

Her chemistry degree from The College of Wooster served her well, she says, but she also highly values the rich array of courses she took, including social history and religion.

First published in the Spring 2010 Wooster magazine.