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The iGIANT: A Student's Perspective

As a student, I have always been interested in understanding "the bigger picture." I love seeing how seemingly different fields of study—the humanities and the sciences, the artistic and the technical—come together in practice, intersecting with and influencing one another to create the overall human experience. More specifically, having done much of my studies in the field of public health, my picture of human health largely has been largely informed by an understanding of how environment, community, policy, and science intersect to determine human health outcomes.

What I've also come to realize throughout my studies is how nuanced research in each of these various fields can be. Given the same methods, the same conditions, and a similar study population, the smallest, seemingly insignificant differences between two populations can result in two completely different outcomes. Historically, one such difference has been sex and gender, with research done solely on one sex/gender typically informing practices for the other as well.

Enter the iGIANT. What had previously just been theory— ideas, information, concepts, dialogue—the iGIANT transformed into action. It took our existing understanding of sex and gender-based research, and not only encouraged it to flourish, but brought together people from all walks of life and fields of expertise to see how we could translate that knowledge into tangible results. To understand how roughly half of our population experiences technology and medicine differently from the other half is monumental; it has implications for our short-term health as well as our long-term well-being as we go about our daily lives using products or following procedures that may have never been meant for our biological systems to being with.

Now, that picture I previously held of human health just became much wider. I’m beginning to learn through the iGIANT the role of technology, of academia, of business models (to name just a few) in how we approach the implementation of research on sex/gender for our collective advancement and wellbeing. Unlike my previous experiences, I won’t be learning this through a classroom, but through interactive roundtables with experts from diverse fields coming together to turn collective concepts into reality. What the iGIANT does is not only unique, but it is necessary and applicable to all fields. I’m hoping the understanding that I and others gain from the iGIANT will further develop that “bigger picture,” and ultimately, wherever we end up, lead us to work together to turn even the most abstract ideas into reality.

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