Faculty Spotlight: Juan Marcos Gonzalez

Friday, May 26, 2017

This past January Juan Marcos Gonzalez, PhD, joined the Duke Division of General Internal Medicine and the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI). Get to know Dr. Gonzalez better by reading our interview! 

Where do you work? What is your title?
I recently joined the PrefER group at DCRI. My current title is "Assistant Professor in Medicine". However, I am an economist by training, so I hope I can soon have a title that better reflects what I do. 

What are your interests in the field?
I conduct stated-preference research. My work focuses on the use of survey methods to evaluate patients’ and physicians' relative preferences for features of health interventions.

How did you get into this specific field?
Although I started my college years as an advertising design student, I had to take an introductory economics class during my sophomore year. As part of the course, we covered some basic quantitative tools for microeconomic analysis. During one of the lectures, the professor put together a simple model of consumer behavior with the help of the students. Then he derived some corollary behavioral results that were astonishingly intuitive. I was floored to see how human behavior could be described through mathematical models and decided then that microeconomic modeling would be my path. I’ve done that in one way or another ever since.

What brought you to Duke? 
I came to Duke primarily to support the new PrefER group, led by Dr. Shelby Reed and Dr. Reed Johnson. The group conducts stated-preference research to inform patient risk-tolerance in health interventions, to evaluate more broadly the impact of treatment outcomes for patients and other stakeholders, and to facilitate shared decision making, among other things.

How is the position going for you so far?
It has been a great experience. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with such a great group of researchers and staff.

Is there any research you are doing or plan on doing?
I would like to conduct a longitudinal study to quantify patients’ relative preferences for benefits and risks of various orthopedic surgeries. The study will help collect information on the correlation of results from best-practice preference work and health-related behaviors.  

What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?
I enjoy spending my time outside of the office with my wife and my twenty-month-old son. I also spend quite a bit of time every Spring working on my vegetable garden. It is a relaxing activity that produces tangible results, which is more than I can say about microeconomic modeling.

Any recent books you’ve read that you’d like to share?
I recently finished reading The Lady Tasting Tea. It is an interesting read on the history of statistics and some of the quirky reasons behind things we do in statistical analysis.

What is your favorite food?
I enjoy few things more than a good cup of coffee.