Brenton Faber
SL 019
+1 (508) 8315000 x4930
Affiliated Department or Office
Department of Biomedical Engineering
B.A. Political Science & English University of Waterloo 1992
M.A English Simon Fraser University, BC 1993
Ph.D English University of Utah 1998

In my lab we study medical writing and the human factors that influence medical diagnosis, treatment, and patient care. I am a practicing paramedic who volunteers with a rural ambulance squad and at a free urban clinic. My current research is focused on three areas: 1) Improving healthcare for uninsured and underinsured at-risk patients; 2) Alternative systems for healthcare delivery; and 3) Clinical reports in pre-hospital care. An ongoing topic of interest that links my research, teaching, and clinical practice is the concept of "allostasis" and "allostatic load." The terms have been used to describe a continued activation of the body’s neural, neuroendocrine, and immune systems as an adaptive response to prolonged stress. Unlike homeostasis, which describes an ongoing physiological balance, the term allostasis describe conditions in which adaptive systems can become perpetually activated. For example, an allostatic state could perpetuate chronic hypertension, hyperglycemia, tachycardia, or elevated stress hormones. Allostasis may also describe conditions in which patients experience otherwise pathological states as normal or in which an anticipatory state predominates. The concept has also been used in education to help us understand different styles of student engagement and performance and in organizational theory. We are interested in the potential application of allostasis to healthcare delivery, medical communication, and patient decision making.

I maintain a small undergraduate research team. We are currently working with a free urban medical clinic to create an electronic database of epidemiological and medical outcomes data from their paper charts. The team has implemented a free atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk screen for patients and a "food is medicine" program for patients with hypertension or diabetes.  

A great project we started is a "Medical Mystery" series in the WPI student newspaper. Archived medical mysteries can be found on WPI's pre-health page at

Scholarly Work

Barry B, Carillo N, Faber B. PPE use in early days of COVID-19 in rural northern NY State. J. Emergency Medical Services 2022;Aug 9;
Codding K, Faber B. Scientific emergence and instantiation part II: Assembling synthetic biology 2006-2015. J. Bus & Tech Com 2019;33(3):268-291.
Faber, J. & Barr, J. (2015). “Two patients have unusual overdose symptoms.” Journal of Emergency Medical Services. September. Case of the Month.
Faber B. Discourse Technology & Change. London: Continuum 2007.