The Department of Internal Medicine is a national and international leader in cutting-edge research in diverse areas. Many of our faculty, fellows, and trainees are members of multidisciplinary centers like the Abboud Cardiovascular Research Center or the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center, or are funded individually by grants from a variety of sources, such as the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, or the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and others. Whatever the work or the source of funding, our Department has made tremendous breakthroughs in the treatment and prevention of some of the most intractable diseases for decades and decades, and provided important new advances that inform our understanding of or treatment approaches for common problems. I have made it a priority to find new ways to increase awareness of the incredible work happening here and to capitalize on our successes.
An important strategy will be to leverage technology to increase information sharing and to promote collaboration. As such, we will undertake a reorganization and redesign of our Department’s web presence to enhance our research missions. Dr. Isabella Grumbach, Vice Chair for Research, has been leading a team of faculty members, designers, and other communication specialists to reconceptualize our Research pages. She and her team members have done this with a variety of users in mind in addition to faculty: patients, faculty recruits, student applicants, and potential external collaborators. Information will be categorized more logically for greater ease of discovery and connection, more up-to-date information will remain available, and most important, the current work of all our researchers will be on display. We have also begun to reimagine the way we work with one another, in and outside the institution. We will deploy new collaborative tools to increase interaction between faculty and in so doing, the Department will continue its long history of leadership and research excellence. In the coming weeks, Dr. Grumbach and her team will begin to introduce these enhancements and innovations to small groups at a time and we will rely on your feedback to refine and adapt our efforts.
Another initiative that I am pleased to launch is an effort to support the development of a strong cohort of successful clinical and outcomes researchers within the Department of Internal Medicine. An important step in this process is the creation of the Associate Chair for Clinical and Health Services Research, for which Dr. Eli Perencevich was the natural fit. In my announcement of this last week, I mentioned that one of Dr. Perencevich’s goals is to significantly increase departmental research into ways in which we deliver care. As our health care delivery and reimbursement has shifted toward outcome-based medicine and improving metrics such as readmission rates or healthcare-associated infections and to increasing value, our dependence on data rather than tradition to drive our approaches makes this research even more critical. Dr. Perencevich has been very successful in this work at the Iowa City VA Medical Center. His work with CADRE to improve overall delivery of health care and with QUERI to reduce healthcare-associated infection rates has shown that he understands how to look objectively at process and how to implement and manage change. In addition, he has successfully mentored a strong cohort of outcome investigators that I would like to see expanded across the Department. Dr. Perencevich will be meeting with Division Directors and faculty over the next months to articulate our vision and strategy, and to begin to recruit existing and new faculty members to fulfill this mission, in which the Department will make a strong investment.
Finally, as educators and mentors, we must commit to ensuring the development and nurturing of the next generation of physicians and researchers. I was pleased to see the recent publications of two of our third-year residents in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals. One, Dr. Sergio Sánchez-Luna’s first, is a case report of a patient he saw as a medical student but has continued to monitor in the years since. It teaches the importance of paying attention to all available warning signs before initiating a procedure, and demonstrates how we can help our students and trainees identify opportunities to showcase their work during their training, while gaining important experience in having their work and findings peer-reviewed and published. The other publication is Dr. Amanda Grippen Goddard’s second career publication. This case series, written in collaboration with former Immunology fellow and faculty member, Dr. Antoine Azar, demonstrates what our trainees can achieve when we involve them and give them the space to contribute to our research efforts. We are proud of all our residents and the mentors who have helped them identify and nurture their interests. These relatively small investments, along with the more substantial ones described above, are all critical parts of the future of our research mission.