As a Global Health MD with an in-depth background in brain/mental/behavioural health, Miriam Burger's broader mission is to advance transdisciplinarity in medicine and innovate the landscape of healthcare through collaboration for the Sustainable Development Goal 3. I am an advisory member of the World Health Innovation Summit CIC (WHIS) where consultants, companies, and academics collaborate to improve healthcare. We have partnered with the UN-Habitat, UN Academic Impact, Interparliamentary Union, and WHO, whose shared mission is to assist and accelerate the SDG implementation process and ensure the world reaches its goal, at the latest by 2030. The implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals springs from the belief shared by United Nations officials, senior business leaders, and NGOs that a transparent, academically driven index is needed to rank companies and countries on their sustainability practices.
Photo below: participating at the World Economic Forum, WEF 2022
Sustainable Development Goals Conference by the U.N. SDG Champions Platform
Q & A
Since 2019, you have been an international Advisor for the World Health Innovation Summit CIC. What is the idea behind this network, and what healthcare projects do you accelerate?
The idea behind WHIS was to create a platform in which patients, clinicians, managers, voluntary sector, academia and the business community can exchange ideas to develop community-based medicine and personalized care, and furthermore to generate a level in which health innovation finds a place and gets in touch with global promotion. This has led to the formation of expert groups, each responsible for overseeing and developing projects. One example is that we are working together with the UNGSII Foundation, UNSDSN to launch COP (Conference of the Parties) Olympics, where we started Changing the Narrative: COP is the chosen meetup for Global Changemakers for Climate Change. That meant creating an event that celebrates those who are focused on accelerating positive change by including all stakeholders to create opportunities for everyone to contribute by simply changing the narrative: in regions, countries, continents, and on a global stage to ensure the targets set are met and delivered by 2030. Another example is the concept of "Arts for SDGs" launched with WHO and partners. Specifically, artists from various communities around the world were invited to exhibit their artwork on the topic of mental health. We were also able to find global investors for medical tech startups and R&D projects. In the meantime, numerous projects have emerged through the promotion of SDG3-oriented innovation at the World Health Innovation Summit CIC.
WHIS' latest book chapter publication on ONE HEALTH will be available in March 2023:
One Health: Transformative Enterprises, Wellbeing and Education in the Knowledge Economy
Which framework is needed to create an innovation-friendly climate in the healthcare sector - motivating MDs to start their own business?
In the healthcare industry, increased collaboration between the private and public sectors is becoming more important than ever. The private sector has a different working dynamic. As a woman and a physician myself, I am interested in research and development, and entrepreneurship, thus I am involved in various ecosystems in Zurich and Geneva, such as Campus Biotech or the University of Zurich. It is precisely when you bring together medical professionals and companies that groundbreaking new ideas emerge that benefit medicine. How this can work in practice can be seen where clinics, medicine, research, and companies come together. Europe offers opportunities for private-state collaboration in cutting-edge research and industry, and innovation centers are getting more proactively promoted, especially in Switzerland where I am based. London and NYC, for example, have long been hubs for public-private collaboration. For example, there are several college and startup ecosystems supported by the state and cantons. There are clearly defined interfaces between medical research and industrial technology development - a thriving ecosystem that could also be more strongly promoted elsewhere.
Music, life sciences and sustainability are big topics in your life. Why did you bring these fields together?
What is music? It is a physical, sensory input processed through our senses.
What is consciousness? We don't really know, but part of it is the processing of sensory inputs.
How can we sustain a relationship with our environment? Through perception, processing, and awareness. I call this relationship "Eco-Awareness".
I found music and sound to be very helpful for Eco-Awareness, even as an antidote to recently rising eco-anxiety. Audible and vibrational inputs modulate self-consciousness and play a critical role in our relationships with ecosystems. We relate to our environment through our senses and perception. Music can support the connection of self-consciousness with environmental awareness. Applied in a resource-nourishing manner, music can support us in brain health, resilience, and stress management.
I started playing the violin at the age of five and was professionally trained for twelve years. Already during my training I noticed that music has a great influence on my mental level. This fascinated me so much that I decided to study medicine to better understand the brain and the body. During my studies, music also provided me with a good balance. At the time, it was not clear to me whether this was specifically because I was a musician, or whether music in general has a balancing effect. For me, music and medicine are not opposites, but have a synergetic effect. The parallel involvement in both fields has certainly shaped my attitude towards my professional development. During my medical studies in Vienna, I began working as a pop-rock musician and string arranger, and after graduation I played in Udo Juergens' orchestra and in the 21st Century Orchestra at the KKL Luzern. But I did not want to give up medicine, so I began a residency in psychiatry in Zurich and continued my training in music as medicine, global health and mind-body medicine in Boston. A prolonged field discovery phase followed in Asia and other continents, which eventually led to my current path - co-creating and sourcing transformative methods for wellbeing & health, exactly at this interface of consciousness, health, music and some other interfaces which will influence my work over the next couple years.
SDG 3: Good Health for all
True abundance comes from connection. In 2018 we celebrated the Global Health Delivery Intensive Program at Harvard University, a growing network by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Medical School, in an effort to create an interdisciplinary skill set that will improve how we build health care. We have shared our determination and mutual understanding as a group of over 27 nationalities over several years. Healthcare is the work of many, with all of us going the extra mile. I learned from committed leaders who have been developing health delivery systems, with a dedication that is of rare humanistic nature - among them leaders and representatives at Partners in Health, Seed Global Health, Abundance Foundation, The Gates Foundation, and many more. As a global citizen, being part of the growing Global Health network inspires me to co-create brighter and more sustainable healthcare. From a futurist perspective, Global Health lays the groundwork for future health systems capacity that we will continue to build not only on our planet but beyond it.
Photo below: Certification at the 2018 Class of Global Health Delivery Intensive Program, Harvard University, Cambridge/Boston, USA