John O'Brien knows the healthcare industry from the inside out: He has served as the president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, Mass., the Cambridge Health Alliance in suburban Boston, and also as the commissioner of health for the city of Cambridge.

O'Brien has traded in his metaphorical hospital gown for that of an academic, and in so doing, is in the vanguard of one of the nation's pioneering efforts at coordinating comprehensive public health data-gathering and dissemination. O'Brien, now the Jane and William Mosakowski Distinguished Professor of Higher Education at Clark University in Worcester, is overseeing the creation of an academic health department, the fruition of  a new partnership between the university and the City of Worcester's public health department.

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