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Geisel and Dartmouth Health Receive $5 Million Award to Develop the Next Generation of Learning Health System Scientists

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A team of researchers at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine and Dartmouth Health have received a $5 million funding award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to launch a new Learning Health System Embedded Scientist Training and Research (LHS E-STaR) Center.

Built on a long-standing partnership between Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Health in patient-centered outcomes research, the new Center will support the professional development and research for a diverse group of scientists to conduct patient-centered comparative effectiveness research within the Dartmouth Health Learning Health System to improve health system operations, quality, and health outcomes.

“Learning health systems are committed to providing patients with higher quality, safer, equitable, and more efficient care by applying evidence from research to promote innovation and systems change,” said PCORI Executive Director Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH. “These efforts are advanced when health systems employ people with the skills to explore relevant evidence and produce insights that can be implemented in routine practice to improve care.”

Dartmouth LHS E-STaR CenterThe Dartmouth LHS E-STaR Center will be led by Anna Tosteson, ScD, and Eugene Nelson, DSc, MPH, from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at Geisel, and Tina Foster, MD, MPH, MS, from the Value Institute at Dartmouth Health. It is one of only 16 such Centers across the U.S.

The new Dartmouth LHS E-STaR Center builds on Dartmouth’s Promise Partnership Learning Health System, which was initiated in support of the health system’s 2018 strategic plan reflecting a commitment to bring the full power of the collective expertise of patients, care teams, and researchers together to provide the best possible care to our patients, our people, and our communities.

“We are delighted to train the next generation of scientists with the resources this new Center provides. These scientists will work to meet the healthcare needs of northern New England communities with a focus on advancing rural health equity,” said Anna Tosteson.

Over the course of the next five years, Dartmouth’s E-STaR Center will train nine scientists whose research will focus on evaluating innovations for providing timely access to high-quality, equitable, person-centered care to the communities Dartmouth Health serves.

The inaugural LHS scientist is Jessica Salwen-Deremer, PhD, director of Behavioral Medicine for Digestive Health at Dartmouth Health’s Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, whose project will evaluate the use of virtual group visits versus individual visits for gastrointestinal patients with behavioral health needs, work she initiated under the Susan and Richard Levy Health Care Delivery Incubator. Future scientists are being recruited through a request for applications.

“AHRQ and PCORI are training a new cadre of learning health system scientists. Healthcare systems and their providers will use these scientists’ evidence to advance care as quickly, broadly, and equitably as possible,” said AHRQ Director Robert Otto Valdez, PhD, MHSA. “Our organizations are following through on their commitment to support learning health systems by helping to train this new group of scientists. That investment is expected to pay off many times over in new knowledge generated and better treatments delivered to patients.”

Dartmouth Health learning health system data captured during care are used to continuously improve patient and community care, addressing challenges that range from our patient’s care experience to timely access to care in the rural region that we serve. The new Learning Health System E-STaR Center will engage with the communities served by Dartmouth Health through a partnership with Dartmouth Health’s Center for Advancing Rural Health Equity.

The new Center will extend the educational capabilities of the learning health system under Foster’s leadership within the Dartmouth Health Value Institute. Experiential learning for E-STaR scientists will be enhanced by The Dartmouth Institute’s Coproduction Laboratory, which is co-led by Dr. Nelson and Glyn Elwyn, MD, PhD, MSc. The E-STaR Center will provide scientists with research resources and quantitative expertise through a Research and Data Analysis Core led by Tor Tosteson, ScD, director of the Division of Biostatistics in the Department of Biomedical Data Science at Geisel and co-led by Tim Burdick, MD, MBA, MSc, Dartmouth Health’s associate chief research officer for informatics.

About the Geisel School of Medicine
Founded in 1797, the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth strives to improve the lives of the communities it serves through excellence in learning, discovery, and healing. The Geisel School of Medicine is renowned for its leadership in medical education, healthcare policy and delivery science, biomedical research, global health, and in creating innovations that improve lives worldwide. As one of America’s leading medical schools, Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine is committed to training new generations of diverse leaders who will help solve our most vexing challenges in healthcare.

About Dartmouth Health
Dartmouth Health, New Hampshire's only academic health system and the state's largest private employer, serves patients across northern New England. Dartmouth Health provides access to more than 2,000 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH, as well as across its wide network of hospitals, clinics and care facilities. DHMC is consistently named the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in numerous clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth Health includes Dartmouth Cancer Center, one of only 56 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation, and the only such center in northern New England; Dartmouth Health Children’s, which includes Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, the state’s only children’s hospital, and multiple clinic locations around the region; member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene and New London, NH, and Bennington and Windsor, VT; Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and more than 30 clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. Through its historical partnership with Dartmouth and the Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth Health trains nearly 400 medical residents and fellows annually, and performs cutting-edge research and clinical trials recognized across the globe with Geisel and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT. Dartmouth Health and its more than 15,000 employees are deeply committed to serving the healthcare needs of everyone in our communities, and to providing each of our patients with exceptional, personal care.