Deborah Cohen, Ph.D. Nominated for Mentoring Award

Selected as a Finalist

02/07/18  Portland, Ore.

At the Women in Academic Medicine's annual conference, individuals are recognized for their support of the success of women in academic medicine at OHSU. Family Medicine faculty member, Deborah Cohen, Ph.D. was selected as a finalist for the 2018 WAM Mentorship Award. Her nomination, submitted by OHSU Family Medicine Chair, Jennifer DeVoe, M.D., D.Phil. reads:

Dr. Deborah Cohen is an exceptional investigator, a dedicated collaborator, and a valued colleague and mentor;in addition to being an emerging international leader in qualitative research methods and healthcare communication, she has also contributed to the careers of countless female colleagues and mentees. Dr. Cohen has developed a wildly successful career, and every step of the way, she lifts the careers of others around her. It is my great honor to nominate Dr. Cohen for the OHSU Women in Academic Medicine Mentoring Award on behalf of the Department of Family Medicine.

Deb's ideas are demonstrably worthy of financial support, publication, and dissemination, as clearly evidenced by her extreme success obtaining grant funding: she is currently funded by 11 federal grants (in addition to other awards), on all of which she is a PI, Co-PI, or Co-I. This includes leading one of the largest grants ever funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a project that promises to be critical to future primary health care delivery and has tremendous potential to advance the dissemination and implementation science field. This award is high profile, high-resource, and potentially highly scrutinized, and speaks to Dr. Cohen's national prominence and the respect she garners from peers and funders. Rather than take credit for these accomplishments herself, she frequently creates leadership opportunities for mentees. For example, she was the PI on a successful R01 from AHRQ and recently transferred the PI role to a junior colleague who is an underrepresented racial minority..

Dr. Cohen has authored numerous widely-read publications and presentations, and consistently publishes peer-reviewed manuscripts in high impact journals focused on clinical care, health services, and implementation science. She always offers opportunities for newer and junior researchers to publish with her team and has included dozens of mentees as co-authors on her many publications. Several years ago, she was nominated by mentees and received a Special President's Award from the North American Primary Care Research Group, given for "extraordinary leadership in the area of primary care research." In addition to her amazing scientific discoveries, Dr. Cohen is pioneering new methods in our discipline and has been an inspirational leader and mentor to junior scientists in primary care. Again, this past year, her mentees nominated her for the prestigious mid-career award from the North American Primary Care Research Group, and she won again!

In addition to her faculty appointment as a Professor of Family Medicine, I created a new Vice Chair for Research position in our department a year ago, and needless to say, Deb was the unanimous choice for this new role. Prior to this, Dr. Cohen also served our department in a substantial position as the Research Director for three years, overseeing 18 faculty members and 22 Research Assistants. Dr. Cohen enables the success of these valuable colleagues by working with department leaders to ensure they have the infrastructure and environment to support their success, and this group brought in over $9 million in grant funds in 2015 alone, with more since that time.

While Dr. Cohen's career has been focused on the study of healthcare quality improvement within primary care, in her work there emerges a consistent theme of stimulating multi-disciplinary, team-based approaches to this research. She has been instrumental in bringing together diverse collaborative international and intergenerational teams that include physicians, epidemiologists, nurses, biostatisticians, and social scientists, and her research team is spread across many different organizations across the country. Dr. Cohen's leadership is underlined by her ability to seek out collaborators and then integrate new perspectives into her work—many of the ESCALATES collaborators are among the top in their respective fields so it is a tremendous testament to Dr. Cohen's skills that she was able to coalesce this team into an effective working group. She features learners and mentees on all aspects of this work, giving them great connections and exposure to international leaders at very early stages in their careers.

Dr. Cohen has held a wide variety of teaching roles here at OHSU, and is a mentor to trainees across every level of development;she is actively involved in the education and mentorship of residents, research fellows, junior faculty with clinical backgrounds, and junior and mid-career faculty focused on qualitative research, and has developed a post-doctorate fellowship in research for the department, for which she serves as the Director. As our Family Medicine Residency program expanded from a three- to a four-year program, Dr. Cohen was the research lead on the team developing the Capstone experience for residents; in addition to helping develop this program, she has continued to review and provide input on Capstone projects, to provide mentorship to residents, and works with residency leaders to establish sustainable infrastructure to support researcher involvement in resident education. Deb is a sought-after mentor, and several of her mentees have gone on to have successful careers of their own, achieving doctorate degrees and winning career development awards. I am proud to consider myself one of Dr. Cohen's learners – I have learned so much from her in our years as collaborators and colleagues.

In summary, Dr. Cohen is an extraordinary researcher and an outstanding mentor, and to quote one of her peers is "a bible of knowledge in the complex art of qualitative research and is always very engaged and available to move projects along and advance science. She provides very thoughtful advice and challenges you to revisit your project objectives, thing outside the box, and keep adapting to solve challenges." Dr. Cohen is changing the world of primary care research and has made a huge impact on the future of our discipline through her mentorship of junior researchers, and we are extremely lucky to have her here at OHSU. She exemplifies what a medical school faculty member should be, and I am so very pleased to nominate her for the OHSU Women in Academic Medicine Mentoring Award.