Michael sees a space for cross-disciplinary research to help translate communication from medical and engineering speak.
“I see it as a way to bring patients better into the discussion, because with clinicians and medicine it’s almost like speaking a different language…I’m always translating from medical language, so I can’t imagine what it’s like for patients sometimes not being able to communicate in that kind of language.”
Also missing from the current picture of artificial heart research are the close reading skills of Humanities scholars.
“We have now a lot more young people being implanted with artificial hearts and LVADs and they’re relying on a lot of media like YouTube and blogs and whatnot to talk about their experiences,” Michael says. “I think that’s fascinating and that’s something that I don’t have the skill set to understand and interrogate where a lot of humanities researchers, scholars and academics would be able to.”
One of the most exciting things about the potential of the Heart of the Matter Working Group is that vastly different work can sit comfortably under the one space.
Also involved in the group is JCU Professor of History/Head of Humanities and Creative Arts Richard Nile. Richard and his collaborator, Ffion Murphy of Edith Cowan University, are currently working with 250,000 records of returned service personnel from the First World War to trace the history of their hearts.
“This is a kind of big data project looking into the heart as the most significant and important metaphorical way of depicting soldiers in battle – if you’ve got heart you can go into battle, if you lack heart then you are removed from battle,” Richard says. “So those who were removed from battle because they lacked heart literally were disenfranchised of their status as being war veterans because they had a psychological disorder.”
Like Michael, Richard thinks that this collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach holds a lot of value.
“Once you begin to liberate yourself into thinking about the significance of the heart, you can think about all kinds of connections,” Richard says. “I think that’s what’s going to happen here.”
For Claire, the next step is simple. “We really want to encourage people to get in touch if they want to collaborate, whatever area of the University they’re from - touch base with us.”
If your research has heart, contact Dr Claire Hansen to join the Heart of the Matter’s next discussion.