New Faculty Profiles
Darwyyn Deyo’s disappointing encounters with politicians as a reporter covering state government in Harrisburg, Pa., helped steer her toward graduate school to study economics.
“It was frustrating, being a journalist and being able to ask questions and know the kinds of things we should be focused on and have politicians give me ‘politician speak’ in return,” says Deyo, a newly appointed assistant professor in the Department of Economics.
Realizing she could make more of an impact by helping to shape policy rather than just reporting on it, Deyo went to George Mason University for her Ph.D. She developed dual interests in labor economics and health economics (one dissertation topic focused on the impact of occupational licensing, which has become much more widespread in the U.S. in recent decades).
She’s currently working with colleagues in analyzing a large sample of Medicare beneficiaries
to discern the impact of tort reform on the utilization of medical services. They
are trying to
answer a deceptively simple question: If doctors order more tests to protect themselves from malpractice claims, do tort reform measures have an impact on these practices?
Deyo, who earned degrees in economics and international studies at St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, finds her journalistic training comes in handy in the classroom.
“I like to take my background as a journalist and transmit that expertise to the students to help improve their writing,” she says. “I’m teaching them to think critically, how to ask a question and how to answer that question working with the tools they already have.”
Deyo has participated in competitive Scottish Highland dancing since childhood and was elated to learn that there is a school of Highland dancing in San José. “Scottish festivals are fun,” she says.
Most people assume the U.S. Food and Drug Administration determines whether pharmaceuticals
are safe for human use, but in practice, physicians and pharmaceutical
manufacturers often take the lead in determining how drugs are prescribed—and for
Raymond March, a new assistant professor in the Department of Economics, studies
the comparative roles played by public and private entities in the safe use of pharmaceuticals.
“If you know drugs are dangerous, how do you effectively prescribe them?” he asks.
“Can private bodies uphold the Hippocratic oath, or do you need government? Those
are the kinds
of questions I’m trying to answer.”
Often, March says, clinicians find new uses for a medication before the FDA develops a regulation. One example is aspirin. Starting in the 1950s, doctors who realized that it kept blood from clotting advised patients to take it to prevent heart attacks. The FDA approved its use to treat heart attacks in the 1990s and still hasn’t approved a daily dose for preventive purposes, although it is widely used for that today.
It’s also important to understand the incentives that drive particular clinical practices, March says. “I’m interested in the incentive structures,” he says. “Is there an incentive regardless of the medical evidence?”
March, a Miami native, did his undergraduate work at Florida Gulf Coast University and earned his Ph.D. in economics at Texas Tech University. Now at San José State, he’d like to add some new course offerings, particularly in health economics and managerial economics.
Meanwhile, he’s enjoying the move to the Bay Area. “I like it a lot better,” he says. “The weather’s nice and not everyone’s on the farm. In Texas, I had a kid email and say, ‘I can’t take the final because I can’t find the cows.’”