Bridging Boundaries: The interdisciplinary approach to Clinical Medicine

Meet Mette Terp Høybye

“I dream of making social sciences and humanities an integrated part of all future research in clinical medicine.”

In the world of clinical medicine, Mette Terp Høybye continues to forge a path of innovation and interdisciplinary understanding. Born in Denmark in 1973, her scientific journey began with an innate curiosity about the context and conditions shaping human perceptions and understandings.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the ways technology shapes our communication and experiences, particularly within healthcare. As a student of anthropology, I was drawn to the potential of the internet in bridging the isolating experience of living with serious and terminal illnesses, such as cancer,” she says.

Her fascination has led her to explore the social interactions and relations of humans and non-humans (e.g., technologies) in the clinical space. She explains:

“This often takes the form of encounters between patients, clinicians, and technologies, and emerges in translations of the knowledge produced in these interactions forming new dilemmas towards decisions and outcomes.”

Integrating social sciences and humanities in clinical medicine

Mette Terp Høybye doesn’t limit her research to a specific illness or clinical site, but rather explores diverse diagnostic and organizational boundaries in health care. From psychosocial oncology to digital health approaches for elective surgery, she’s breaking ground across the medical landscape.

Her current work focuses on the uncertainties and ethical dilemmas arising from new clinical experiments and technologies, particularly in assessing a potential for rehabilitation in patients with unclear consciousness. Additionally, she is diving into the ethical future of healthcare AI and exploring the use of arts-based methods in health.

“I dream of making social sciences and humanities an integrated part of all future research in clinical medicine,” she shares. “My ambition is to conduct research that enhances practices, knowledge, and decisions in clinical medicine, ultimately advancing healthcare and human health.”

Found her feet as a researcher in an in-between space

Mette Høybye Terp’s journey hasn’t been without its challenges, but she’s found a supportive community in her interdisciplinary approach. Her time at Stanford University and the Carlsberg Foundation Distinguished Fellowship in 2018 were both formative experiences, validating her work’s value and importance.

“In research, it’s not always easy to insist on working between disciplines. But with supportive mentors and senior professors, I’ve found my feet in this in-between space of research between clinical medicine and anthropology,” she says.

Her vision of the future of clinical medicine integrates the theoretical and methodological approaches from the humanities and social sciences. She believes this is key to forming insight into how human health and behavior intertwine with biosocial priorities and healthcare systems.