January 30, 2014

Hartert to help lead Translational Science efforts

Tina Hartert, M.D., MPH, professor of Medicine in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, has been named assistant vice chancellor for Translational Science.

Tina Hartert, M.D., MPH, professor of Medicine in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, has been named assistant vice chancellor for Translational Science.

Tina Hartert, M.D., MPH

In this role, Hartert will develop the infrastructure and provide the leadership to accelerate the translation of discovery into patient care, to enhance the adoption of effective therapies and to reduce the utilization of unproven therapies. In addition, she will work to provide decision-support that will allow the tailoring of therapy to the individual patient and to identify potential new therapies through effectiveness studies.

“There is increasing strategic significance in our ability to rapidly translate discovery and innovation into meaningful improvements in patient care. As we move further toward population-based disease management and continue to strive for greater quality and efficiency, our future depends on sustained success in these areas,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “Tina’s outstanding track record as a physician scientist and broad array of experiences ideally position her for this role.”

Hartert’s new role relates to the work Vanderbilt is doing in “the translational space,” said Gordon Bernard, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Clinical and Translational Research, senior associate dean for Clinical Sciences, and the Melinda Owen Bass Professor in Medicine.

“There are a lot of clinical interventions studied in health that are easily passed on to the practitioners. But, there are others that I call ‘process of care innovations’ that are a complex series of things that need to be done to optimize the chances of success within specific patient populations such as ours here at Vanderbilt.

“If we are going to undertake some of these things, like a phone call back to a patient three days after discharge in an attempt to reduce readmissions, for example, then we should be studying them to see if they are working in our environment. If they are working and are cost-effective, continue them and invest more fully in them, and if they are not, then drop them and move onto something else. There are countless areas like this.”

Hartert has substantial experience in integrating ‘big data,’ such as electronic health records and claims data, with prospective clinical studies to address questions regarding disease etiology, causality, risk prediction, modeling and effectiveness. She has been focused on the discovery of strategies for primary prevention for asthma, among other research interests. She has dedicated her research program to interventions or improvements that support healthy outcomes.

“We are at a critical junction in medicine. Tina has the vision and leadership to shape how we translate discovery into practice,” said Nancy Brown, M.D., the Hugh J. Morgan professor and chair of the Department of Medicine.

Hartert’s new role is a natural extension and application of her experience and research methods to Vanderbilt’s system.

“Much of Tina’s work has been done in the area of asthma, but the techniques she developed are applicable across many disciplines,” Bernard said, citing overall readmission rates, pressure ulcer rates and ways of optimizing mechanical ventilation in the critically ill as examples of areas in which Hartert will examine overarching processes of care at the institutional level.

“Vanderbilt has incredible, unique data sources, infrastructure and investigators who have developed our own electronic health record and our own database in REDCap. The idea is to engage all of the Vanderbilt community around designing and building a 21st century health care delivery system that integrates personalized information into the health care delivery system in real time so we can improve our health outcomes, patient experience, efficiency and cost,” Hartert said.

Hartert, who is also the director of the Center for Asthma and Environmental Sciences Research, will relinquish directorship of the Office of Medical Student Research to take on this new role.

“It is a really exciting time,” Hartert said. “Not only do we have the opportunity to effectively implement discoveries into personalized processes of care in real-time to improve outcomes, but we can also integrate research approaches into the way that we study and practice clinical medicine. There are few, if any, other institutions that are as uniquely positioned to do this with all the right pieces in place.”