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Three clinicians join innovative Kaiser Permanente Northern California research cohort

Physician Researcher Program now hosts a baker’s dozen of doctors pursuing research to influence care delivery

Three Kaiser Permanente physicians have joined The Permanente Medical Group (TPMG) Physician Researcher Program, which allows them to continue their clinical work while pursuing specific research projects. The trio join 10 other clinicians already in the program, which is operated in collaboration with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research (DOR).

Doug Corley, MD, PhD, research scientist with Division of Research

“These physician researchers’ work is informing care changes and influencing practice guidelines across multiple topics,” said Doug Corley, MD, PhD, director of TPMG’s Delivery Science & Applied Research program and a DOR research scientist. “We look forward to helping these 3 distinguished members of the 2020 class in developing this new aspect of their careers and answering important questions that directly inform high-impact changes in clinical care.”

This is the third class of physicians to join the program since its start in 2017. They began Nov. 1, 2020, and were chosen from among 40 applicants.

The new physician researchers are:

Jacek Skarbinski, MD, adjunct investigator, Division of Research.

Jacek Skarbinski, MD

Infectious disease specialist, Kaiser Permanente Oakland and Richmond medical centers

Background: Joined TPMG in 2016 after working more than 10 years on complex infectious disease investigation and management programs with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Research project: Immunity and patterns of disease exposure for COVID-19 across Kaiser Permanente Northern California

Mentor: Lawrence Kushi, ScD

“I am thrilled to be joining the Physician Researcher Program, a rich community of mentors and collaborators, and very grateful for the opportunity to conduct research on ways to improve care for our patients,” Skarbinski said. “My research focus is on defining the utility of serology assays for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) for disease surveillance and clinical use.”

Dana Sax, MD, emergency physician with The Permanente Medical Group

Dana Sax, MD, MPH

Emergency medicine specialist, Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center

Background: Joined TPMG in 2013, where she has worked on research and implementation projects with the CREST research network

Research project: Evaluating new risk-based follow-up care methods among patients with congestive heart failure

Mentors: Mary Reed, DrPH, CREST research network steering committee

“I am excited and honored to become part of the Physician Researcher Program and am very grateful for the opportunity for mentorship from and collaboration with this talented and multidisciplinary group,” Sax said. “My research focuses on improving the care of emergency department patients with acute heart failure, and I’m particularly interested in studying how we can build and implement risk prediction tools to support providers with complex decision-making.”

Matthew Hirschtritt, MD, MPH, psychiatrist with The Permanente Medical Group

Matthew Hirschtritt, MD, MPH

Psychiatrist, Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center

Background: Joined TPMG in 2019 after completing residency training at the University of California, San Francisco

Research project: Evaluating novel methods for mental health care that optimize quality and access, including communities with historical challenges in care

Mentors: Connie Weisner, DrPH, MSW, and Stacy Sterling, DrPH, MSW, MPH

“As a health-services researcher, the Physician Researcher Program provides an incredible opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research that impact the care we provide to millions of KPNC members,” Hirschtritt said. “Among the many strengths of the program, the collaboration among physician-researchers from different specialties adds to every project and helps generate novel research ideas. The overarching mission of my work is to enhance access to high-quality and cost-effective mental health services.”

More information about the program, including its current members, is available on the Physician Researcher Program website. Read about the first cohort of physician researchers, who started in 2017, and the second, who began in 2019.



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