Professor Ellen Meara Appointed to Endowed Professorship

Ellen Meara, PhD (Photo by Mark Washburn)

Ellen Meara, PhD, a professor of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, and an adjunct professor of economics at Dartmouth College, has been named to the Peggy Y. Thomson Professorship in the Evaluative Clinical Sciences.

“I am very pleased to appoint Dr. Meara to this endowed professorship. Ellen is a pioneer in examining the behaviors of healthcare systems under different payment models, and she is leading the national dialogue on prescribing practices, support for vulnerable patient populations, and other issues in healthcare,” says Geisel School of Medicine Dean Duane Compton. “She continues to make extraordinary discoveries that will help shape the best practices for provisioning healthcare to achieve the best possible patient outcomes.”

A health economist, Meara is known for her work focusing on the impact of public policies and regulations on populations insured by Medicare and Medicaid—particularly those with disabilities, including mental illness and substance use disorders—looking closely at the economic impact of changes to insurance coverage, payment strategies, and care delivery innovations. She has extensive experience tracking trends in medical spending over time.

She has also researched variation in opioid prescribing to disabled Medicare beneficiaries across the U.S., as well as state-level legal restrictions designed to reduce misuse of prescription opioids. Opioid overdose deaths among those with disabilities enrolled in Medicare contribute an outsized share of opioid-related deaths.

Meara is co-faculty director of Dartmouth’s Master of Health Care Delivery Science program, a co-editor of the Journal of Health Economics, and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“It is an honor to be recognized with the Peggy Y. Thomson Professorship, which has supported a rich tradition of health services research at Dartmouth,” Meara says. “I have the extraordinary privilege to collaborate with diverse teams of talented faculty, staff, and students at Dartmouth, and I look forward to using this award to extend the content of our research to make healthcare better.”

The Peggy Y. Thomson Professorship was established in 1993 by Dr. Andrew Thomson, Jr., D '46, in honor of his wife. As the nation’s first endowed chair in the discipline of outcomes research, it was a visionary gift that helped to cement Dartmouth’s leadership in the field. The chair was first held by Dr. Jack Wennberg, a pioneer in the study of healthcare systems and variations in care and founder of what is now The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice. Most recently the chair was held by Dr. James N. Weinstein, an internationally renowned spine surgeon and researcher, professor of orthopaedics, former director of The Dartmouth Institute, and former CEO and president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

Dr. Thomson was an important benefactor of the medical school over many years, giving generously in support of teaching and research in medicine, faculty development at The Dartmouth Institute, and more. In 1986 he established the William LeRoy Garth Professorship in Anesthesiology. That same year, fellow Dartmouth College alumni Robert C. Borwell D ’25 and Kenneth F. Montgomery D ’25 established the Andrew Thomson, Jr., MD 1946 Professorship in honor of Dr. Thomson’s many contributions to Dartmouth and its medical school. This included service as a member of the President's Advisory Committee, as a member of the medical school’s Board of Overseers (with three years as chair), and as a trustee of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Dr. Thomson earned his MD from Indiana University and was an internist at Rush-Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago for 30 years, where he also served on the Board of Trustees and played a leading role in fundraising for the institution.