November 17, 2006

Hartmann to help further women’s health research

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Katherine Hartmann, M.D., Ph.D.

Hartmann to help further women’s health research

Katherine Hartmann, M.D., Ph.D., has been named deputy director of the Institute for Medicine and Public Health at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and vice chair for Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Hartmann came to Vanderbilt from the University of North Carolina, where she founded the Center for Women's Health Research to serve the UNC campus and was director of the Healthcare Epidemiology Program at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health.

At Vanderbilt, Hartmann will be leading a new doctoral program in epidemiology and assisting with the coordination and launch of new doctoral programs in biostatistics, health services research, and health behavior and health education.

In addition to founding the program in women's health research, she plans to continue her involvement in research mentorship.

Hartmann received her medical degree from Johns Hopkins in 1992 and her Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health in 1999.

In 1992, she served a residency at UNC and after a fellowship there joined the faculty in 1999.

“What's so exciting to me about Vanderbilt is the absolute excess of intellectual capital,” Hartmann said. “People here are so collaborative. It's an exciting place for researchers.

“I'm dedicated to doctoral education and a big enticement about coming here was the opportunity to start a Ph.D. program in epidemiology. The institute structure felt like a natural place to put a new program.

“I love growth, absolutely love growing things, so the pace that Vanderbilt was keeping so visibly on the national scale made it easy to agree to take on a job that has the components of quick growth toward a high level of excellence.”

Bob Dittus, M.D., chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine and director of the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, said that Hartmann has established herself as an outstanding scientist and mentor in reproductive epidemiology and women's health and will help establish important research programs in these areas at Vanderbilt.

“More importantly, her research capabilities and breadth of skills in health care epidemiology and public health research will greatly facilitate the growth and development of this interdisciplinary institute, which is a new academic model for merging public health, health services research and clinical medicine and nursing.”

Hartmann is a good fit for the Obstetrics and Gynecology role because women's health research is multidisciplinary, said Nancy Chescheir, M.D., chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“She is the ultimate collaborator. Her leadership will spur us departmentally and institutionally into many areas of women's health research,” Chescheir said.

Hartmann said her two roles work in synergy. “Like all academic jobs, the things you do touch different domains. As a researcher here, I will be imbedded in the Vanderbilt epidemiology center and will be hiring additional faculty who are reproductive epidemiologists. Bringing more reproductive epidemiologists to Vanderbilt enhances women's health research. The two roles work together.”

But her first priority is getting the doctoral program in epidemiology up and running. The target date to have the program in place is Fall 2008.

“That's a remarkable pace, but it can be done,” Hartmann said. “There aren't too many places that could do it that quickly.”

Hartmann said it takes three ingredients to get a dynamic top-flight doctoral program under way: having nationally and internationally-known investigators who are well-funded; the capacity to do methodologically strong training; and having a model for making the health and health care aspects of research immediately relevant by integrating real data into a program, such as the electronic medical record and TennCare data.

“These three things combined are going to make for a fabulous doctoral program. That's job one in the big picture,” Hartmann said.