When I started my studies in economics in Germany, I never thought to end my masters degree with a thesis on the better organization of a gastroenterological problem, collaborating with researchers on collective intelligence and clinicians around the world. Also, I did never think about analyzing communications on the innovation spread of whipworm therapy. In a nutshell and a very different way, IBD was a challenge for me as a non-patient, but a challenge I won’t miss. I have been lucky not to have the physical and psychological stress that accompanies many people with IBD. However, this didn’t keep me from being interested in the question how to solve the problems, once I got in touch with the disease I didn’t know much about.
You may ask how a background in economics could be a little contribution to the project? Well, I think because economics is often about the organization of scarcity. IBD is clearly a problem of scarcity, when it comes to complete knowledge about optimal treatments and resources that humans and their families have. Economics can be a good toolset to better allocate resources, to organize intelligence and to enable a better diffusion of innovations in a case like IBD. Also, economics ask for identifying small levers with a strong effect within a system. Some may agree that a perspective like this can sometimes be useful to contribute towards a better running clockwork.
Being part of an application development team with C3N, my colleagues at MIT, in Switzerland and Germany since a while, as well as meeting patients, was a unique experience and demonstrated to me, what it means to have a small chance to impact people’s life. Rarely, I have seen groups like the IBD patients, closing their shoulders, even if all together line up in front of a big question mark – day by day. So many things about IBD still have to be found out and solved. And there couldn’t be a better breeding ground than your community drive to change the next years. I know this is no balm for someone who thinks from day to day. But let me tell you: Little by little, the bird builds its nest. Little by little, your life will improve with the insights that you, your families, researchers and doctors gain. All I can say is: Take part and keep your head up. Always better, never perfect (Kaizen).