Recognition June 2015

Dr. Buist chairs IOM workshop on breast cancer screening

The nation’s top breast cancer screening researchers gathered in Washington, DC, on May 12 at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) workshop, Assessing and Improving Imaging Interpretation in Breast Cancer Screening. Their goal? To review a decade’s worth of new evidence on the quality of screening mammograms and their interpretation.

GHRI Senior Investigator Diana Buist, PhD, MPH, served as workshop moderator and chair of the planning committee. Dr. Buist is the principal investigator for Group Health’s Breast Cancer Surveillance Project and a longtime leader in the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC)—a national resources that provides abundant real-world data on breast cancer screening performance.

The workshop was a follow-up to a 2005 IOM quality report on breast cancer screening that found physician interpretation of mammograms varied significantly despite technical improvements in mammography. Much of the data reviewed at the workshop came from the BCSC, including studies led by Dr. Buist and GHRI Senior Investigator Diana Miglioretti, PhD, both of whom moderated sessions and presented findings from BCSC research:

  • Dr. Buist moderated a session on training and interpretive performance that included her presentation, “U.S. and International Variation in Volume and Performance Measures.”
  • Dr. Miglioretti moderated a session on identifying radiologists and facilities that would benefit from intervention. Her talk was titled “Joint Criteria and Confidence Interval-Based Approaches.”

FDA forums feature Drs. Dublin and Nelson on innovative methods for drug, vaccine safety research

Electronic health care databases are increasingly being used to assess the safety of new medications and vaccines. But how do scientists ensure that using data collected for administrative purposes doesn’t bias their findings? GHRI Associate Investigator Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD, and Senior Investigator Jennifer Nelson, PhD, helped answer this question at two recent events hosted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Both FDA events explored strategies for improving the accuracy of post-marketing safety studies that rely on information from health care databases. Using readily available, population-based data to evaluate drug and vaccine safety usually produces timely results. But because health care databases are typically used for administrative purposes, information on important health outcomes may be missing or incomplete.

Dr. Dublin discussed innovative methods for overcoming this challenge at an FDA public workshop—Addressing Inadequate Information on Important Health Factors in Pharmacoepidemiology Studies Relying on Healthcare Databases—held May 4 in Silver Spring, Md. In a session on “creative ways to improve confounding information,” she described a two-phase study design that provides more complete data by using additional information collected on a subsample of the study population. (View slides from Dr. Dublin’s presentation, Two-Phase Study Designs to Improve Efficiency of New Data Collection.)

Dr. Nelson presented at Develop, Innovate, Advance (DIA)—the FDA’s 2015 statistics forum. Held April 20-22 in Bethesda, Md., the forum explored methodological topics of interest to statisticians and clinical trial researchers who develop new drugs and vaccines. Dr. Nelson spoke in a session on the various roles observational studies play in regulatory decision making. She shared insights on “Methodological challenges in conducting post-licensure drug and vaccine safety surveillance using large electronic databases.”

NEJM’s online forum looks to Dr. Grossman for insights on reward-based quit-smoking programs

In May, GHRI Senior Investigator David Grossman, MD, MPH, was a featured expert in a live online discussion hosted by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The 10-day discussion was part of the NEJM Group Open Form series, an interactive venue for authors, experts, and physicians to discuss timely issues in medicine, research, and career development. Dr. Grossman, who is also Group Health’s medical director for population and purchaser strategy, provided comments in an “Ask the Authors and Experts” forum on an NEJM article about the effectiveness of reward-based smoking cessation programs. View a record of the NEJM Group Open Forum, Ask the Authors and Experts: Randomized Trial of Four Financial-Incentive Programs for Smoking Cessation.