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2024 Predictions on Scientific Breakthroughs and Advancements

As 2023 draws to a close, we asked our experts from across Mass General Brigham what exciting scientific breakthroughs or advancements they are anticipating in 2024. We received a wide range of responses reflecting the wide range of research interests and areas of clinical expertise of investigators from across our system. Below are some of our experts’ top picks for 2024 predictions.

Read more 2024 predictions: 

“Luminopia* is the first FDA-approved digital therapy for amblyopia (“lazy eye”) that is beginning to roll out since being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year. It’s essentially a VR headset where kids can watch their favorite shows and have dual acting binocular (engagement of both eyes) amblyopia treatment. Before this, the standard was patching the better-seeing eye for two hours per day. The system allows providers to track adherence to the therapy, which is about double what we think kids do with patching. Families, patients and doctors are thrilled with this paradigm shift and major advancement in therapy for one of the most common conditions we treat.”

Eric Gaier, MD, PhD
physician and surgeon in the Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Service
Mass Eye and Ear 

*Dr. Gaier is a scientific advisor, patent holder and equity owner for the company.

“In the next year, our researchers will learn more about the genetics and biomarkers of diseases – knowledge that will afford opportunities for improved diagnostic tests and therapeutics. Genetic research advances will reveal new clues in our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma. Advances in OCT imaging will continue to reveal biomarkers that predict disease progression in common diseases like diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.”

Joan W. Miller, MD
Chair of Ophthalmology at Mass Eye and Ear and Mass General Hospital
Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

“Antipsychotic medications are the first line for treatment of schizophrenia, a common and severe disorder, but they are only partially effective and are associated with significant side effects. All currently available antipsychotic medications share the mechanism of dopamine blockade, but the first antipsychotic medication with a non-dopaminergic mechanism of action is very close to being approved and becoming available for our patients. This is likely to be a sea change for the treatment of schizophrenia and related conditions.”

Dost Ongur MD PhD
Chief of the Division of Psychotic Disorders
McLean Hospital

“The breakthrough in ’24 will occur through greater socialization of mounting successful clinical outcome data validating home-based disruptors such as Mass General Brigham’s Home Hospital — one of the largest in the nation. These proof points will accelerate the ecosystem of care delivery at home, across the full continuum of patient needs.  I anticipate advancing technology solutions across every conceivable dimension of the home, such as devices that can be integrated into household appliances to monitor respiration, heart rate and movement as well other important technology-enabled predictive health assessments.   Incorporation of virtual clinician tools alongside favorable Healthcare at Home clinical results will incentivize the continued scale of clinical solutions in alternative settings as consumer expectations evolve around how and where they wish to receive care.”

Heather O'Sullivan, MS, RN, AGNP
President Mass General Brigham Healthcare at Home
Professor, MGH Institute of Health Professions

“The emerging data confirming the ability of weight loss drugs to not only help people lose weight and prevent diabetes but to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease will transform our approach and treatment of obesity as a chronic disease that is a potent, modifiable risk factor for a cardiometabolic disease.”

Christian T. Ruff, MD, MPH
Director of General Cardiology and Senior Investigator for the TIMI Study Group
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

“As an engineer, I'm very interested in the application of digital twins in health care. In 2024, I anticipate the robustness of the technology to be matched by the openness of the medical community to explore the potential of these models. These digital twins use engineering and big data to simulate multiple scenarios and outcomes to study disease development, creating the opportunity to have more precise diagnoses and better overall patient care.”

Shannon Stott, PhD
Investigator, Krantz Family Center for Cancer Research
Massachusetts General Hospital
d'Arbeloff MGH Research Scholar 2022-2027

“I believe we will see great progress in using blood-based biomarkers of brain pathology in pre-symptomatic Alzheimer's patients warranting treatments to prevent the onset of disease. These will include biomarkers of beta-amyloid deposition and Tau-tangles which can also be used as surrogate markers for brain pathology in clinical trials.”

Rudolph Tanzi, PhD
Director of the McCance Center for Brain Health
Massachusetts General Hospital