ELITE Master Educator Paula van de Nes, PhD of LLNS

Paula van de Nes, PhD

Director, Medical Strategy



Combining Neuroscience and Marketing

Paula van de Nes, PhD is a hybrid. No she does not run on both gas and electricity. She is something even more unique—a neuroscientist and marketer. And she is exactly what today’s complex world calls for.

Patients and physicians learn and absorb healthcare information in very different ways. And healthcare information, if presented poorly, can be difficult for either party to understand. Paula, however, developed a multidisciplinary approach that blends the scientific know-how of a neuroscientist with the communication skills of a healthcare marketer. She is able to skirt that line between doctor and patient and able to understand new ways to provide the information necessary to improve outcomes.

But Paula is also a seasoned educator. She was an adjunct professor for Anatomy and Physiology at CUNY. And is a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education advocate as well as a mentor and board member for V-ELMS—a nonprofit with the mission to assess, evaluate and mentor underserved 8 to 18 year olds to achieve their personal, educational and future career goals. But her main role today is as an educator to patients and doctors.

Recently, she presented her latest idea at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) conference. Her proposal: Using interactive gaming as an effective tool to engage hospital workers in a positive way. For instance, games can engage employees with friendly competition to help solve problems in the hospital workplace.

“As a doctor seeing patients daily, I embrace this idea,” says Todd C. Sacktor, MD, Distinguished Professor, Physiology, Pharmacology and Neurology at The Robert F. Furchgott Center for Neural and Behavioral Science. “I am aware of the high stress levels and low levels of engagement of healthcare workers—and how these can sometimes impact patient health outcomes. Doctors and nurses cannot thrive when there is stress, and Paula’s hypothesis to finding a solution is thinking outside the box. Through this effort, Paula is influencing healthcare in a new way—in a multidisciplinary way.”


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