Recognition October 2015

SIMBA team shines at Stanford MedicineX, PCORI annual meeting

With the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) slated to spend $460 million this year on research that engages patients, many in the research community are asking: “What does effective patient engagement look like?” For the answer, PCORI and others are turning to Group Health Research Institute (GHRI)’s SIMBA study.

SIMBA stands for Surveillance Imaging Modalities for Breast cancer Assessment. Its goal is to give women who’ve survived breast cancer and their doctors helpful answers about which screening methods work best after cancer treatment has ended. Led by GHRI Assistant Investigator Karen Wernli, PhD, SIMBA includes two patient partners (study co-investigators) and an 11-member patient advisory board.

Since launching in October 2013, Dr. Wernli and her project manager Susan Brandzel, MPH, have received praise for their unique brand of patient engagement. The trend continues.

On September 27, the duo joined their two patient partners, Mary Bush and Dianne Johnson, for a panel presentation at Stanford MedicineX, the nation’s largest patient-centered conference on emerging technologies and medicine. The team presented their ongoing work on SIMBA as a model for successful patient engagement and shared the surprises, benefits, and challenges they’ve encountered along the way.

Next up was the 2015 PCORI Annual Meeting in Arlington, Va. On October 7, Dr. Wernli and her team gave two invited presentations, including the lunchtime plenary session: “Straight from the Source: Learning about Patient Engagement from Patients and their Research Partners.” This first-ever PCORI Annual Meeting drew more than 1,000 members of the PCORI community and all plenary sessions were webcast live.

Drs. Lozano, McClure discuss reduced-nicotine cigarettes in NEJM online forum

GHRI Senior Investigators Paula Lozano, MD, MPH, and Jennifer McClure, PhD, are serving as featured experts in a live online discussion hosted by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Kicking off on September 30, the 10-day discussion is 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. Drs. Lozano and McClure are providing comments in an “Ask the Authors and Experts” forum on an NEJM article about the potential for reduced nicotine standards to help people decrease their smoking. View a record of the ongoing forum, Ask the Authors and Experts: Randomized Trial of Reduced-Nicotine Standards for Cigarettes and a Promising Regulatory Pathway.

Drs. Manu Thakral and Sarah Knerr join GHRI as T32 fellows in women’s health

GHRI recently welcomed Manu Thakral, PhD, NP, and Sarah Knerr, MPH, PhD, as postdoctoral fellows in women’s health. Their fellowships are supported by a T32 Training Award from the National Institute on Aging called “Health Care Improvement for Aging Women,” which is led by GHRI Senior Investigators Andrea LaCroix, PhD; Katherine Newton, PhD; and Delia Scholes, PhD.

Dr. Thakral received her PhD in nursing with a focus on population heath from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her dissertation was about pain and disability in the elderly. Her goal at GHRI is to begin developing a research program aimed at understanding the health disparities of women with lifelong disability, midlife onset of disability, and disability in the context of the aging population. She plans to continue her research on pain, focusing on individuals aging with a disability, and to examine the sex differences in their experience of pain. Her long-term goal is to inform policy to reduce health disparities of women with disabilities.

Dr. Knerr received her PhD in health services from the University of Washington. Her dissertation explored differences in the use and effectiveness of genomic health applications by ethnicity, acculturation, and education level. While at GHRI, Dr. Knerr plans to continue evaluating genomic health applications and their implementation in clinical and public health settings. Among her specific interests are health equity, risk communication and health literacy, intervention targeting and tailoring, and mixed-method evaluation strategies. Looking more broadly, she hopes her research will help inform health care improvement for aging women, especially in regard to cancer prevention and control.