Laura Healy: Portland VA/Biomedical Engineering Collaboration

12/16/16  Portland, Ore.

Laura Healy leads collaboration between the OHSU Biomedical Engineering Department and the Evidence-based Synthesis Program at the Portland VA

Laura HealyFifth year graduate student Laura Healy, a Cell & Developmental Biology PhD candidate under the supervision of Dr. Owen McCarty in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, has joined the Portland VA Evidence-based Synthesis program (ESP) core team. The team, led by Dr. Devan Kansagara, has been conducting systematic reviews on important clinical practice topics for 9 years, working to improve the health of Veterans.

The topics studied by the ESP core team are selected by stakeholders across the country, which identify key questions regarding healthcare practice. Following thorough investigation by the core team, their report undergoes peer-review to be available both within and outside the VA. The goal of the ESP is to guide clinical policies, improve patient outcomes and identify potential gaps in clinical knowledge.

In 2014, Healy received a predoctoral TL1 award from the Oregon Clinical & Translational Research Institute (OCTRI) here at OHSU, headed by Dr. Cindy Morris. As part of this program, Healy was first exposed to clinical-based research, learning about the hurdles that clinicians encounter at the bedside as well as training to identify unmet clinical needs that could be answered by basic science research. Healy's thesis work is focused on investigating the crosstalk between the innate immune system and coagulation pathways, which is relevant to the process of immunothrombosis observed in the setting of infectious diseases, such as sepsis.

The opportunity to join the ESP core team to study the topic "Comparing antithrombotic strategies after bioprosthetic aortic valve replacement" gives Healy a unique chance as a basic science trainee to apply analytical skills learned at the bench to larger clinical datasets. Dr. McCarty is a participant in the Big Data-Scientist Training Enhancement Program (BD-STEP), which aims to train a new generation of "hybrid" clinical scientists that will utilize data science to develop innovative methods for improving healthcare. A current member of his team, Dr. Joanna Sylman, has recently joined the BD-STEP program as a fellow in training at the Palo Alto VA.

Healy grew up with family that worked at the Tucson VA, instilling in her a longtime interest in healthcare. As both OHSU and the Portland VA are committed to improving patient health and healthcare, fostering collaboration between OHSU basic sciences research and the Portland VA system serves an yet another means to fulfill the mutual goal to improve and save lives.