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Grant bolsters patient-centered outcomes research

Mar. 27, 2014, 10:07 AM

Patient-centered outcomes research is the focus of a $3.3 million, five-year, institutional K12 training grant awarded to Vanderbilt University Medical Center by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Principal investigator David Penson, M.D., professor of Urologic Surgery and director of the Center for Surgical Quality and Outcomes Research, said he is taking applications until April 15 to fill the first four two-three year positions and enroll the class by Aug. 1.

David Penson, M.D.

Penson and Program Director Melissa McPheeters, Ph.D., research associate professor of Medicine, are seeking clinician-scientists from an applicant pool of post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty who must be willing to commit at least 75 percent of their time to research and training.

“The idea is to generate research which is very clinically relevant, that helps patients make decisions about treatments and is informed by patient input,” Penson said.

“We want someone who has some sort of clinical doctorate or clinical training because we want people who have that perspective along with doing good research; people who have been at the bedside and seen patients.”

Melissa McPheeters, Ph.D.

The application will require a letter from the primary faculty mentor who is responsible for the individual, two other letters of recommendation and a letter from the department chair committing to protect their time for research.

The V-POCKET program (Vanderbilt Patient-centered Outcomes Research Career Knowledge, Education and Training) is not specific to a disease or a particular type of patient and applicants can come from all areas of the Medical Center.

“We want to find people who are interested in problems that affect patients,” Penson said. “What this is really geared toward is helping patients make better decisions about their health care and helping them to have good outcomes.

“An example would be a patient who has a head and neck cancer and is choosing between having a surgical procedure or having radiation. Part of our goal is to train the researcher to do a study that would generate information to help that person make a decision.

“But, importantly, we want that information to be personalized because what works for an 80-year-old white man from Nashville may not work for a 40-year-old black woman from Chattanooga,” Penson said.

Interested applicants can contact Christine Shoaf at

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