Welcoming Our Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Integrating Across Our Mission Areas

10/02/17  Portland, Ore.

At the beginning of this year, the Department of Family Medicine announced a strategic plan for the future, including a re-commitment to our three mission areas: clinical care, education, and research. We promised not only to intensify our focus on these areas, but to strengthen our integration efforts across them.

This fall, we have the pleasure of welcoming three post-doctoral fellows, who will help us take a huge step toward integration across the research and clinical care mission areas; two will join as part of our Post-doctoral Research Fellowship in Family Medicine, the other will come from our Japanese exchange partnership. 

The OHSU Post-doctoral Research Fellowship in Family Medicine was conceived with the notion that researchers have much to gain from experiencing patient care first-hand, and patient-care settings have much to gain from working with researchers. The Japanese exchange (JADECOM) fellowship was created to allow Japanese physicians working with our partners at JADECOM to have an immersion experience in clinical care and practice-based research in the United States.

For the next two years, post-doctoral research fellows, Brenna Blackburn, Ph.D. and Maria Ukhanova, Ph.D., will work alongside Family Medicine researchers and will spend time embedded in Family Medicine clinics. In research, the fellows will work on a number of grants, including eCHANGE (led by John Heintzman, M.D., M.P.H.) and CATCH-UP (led by Nat Huguet, Ph.D. and Jen DeVoe, M.D., D.Phil.), getting hands-on experience in team-based research, leadership, and other professional development opportunities.

Blackburn and Ukhanova will also spend about one-third of their time embedded in Family Medicine clinics. Each fellow will bring their expertise in primary care research methods, serving as a research resource in the clinics. They will help clinical faculty translate ideas to manuscripts, residents who are working on a research capstone project, and help design and implement evaluations of high-priority clinical initiatives.  

Takahiro Mochizuki ("Mochi"), M.D., our inaugural JADECOM fellow, will spend the next two years working alongside clinician leaders in our OHSU practices. He will work particularly close with Daisuke Yamashita, M.D., Meg Hayes, M.D., and Ben Cox. His two years with us will be dedicated to learning about the great work happening in practice-based research networks (PBRNs), such as the Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN) and the OCHIN PBRN.

One aspect that makes these fellowships unique from many traditional post-doctoral research fellowships is that we can offer the opportunity for Blackburn, Ukhanova, and Mochizuki to see primary care in action. They will observe the real-life issues that face patients and providers on a daily basis, and will experience different kinds of team-based care. Spending time on the frontlines of primary care delivery will provide the fellows a unique perspective on their work here at OHSU and for the rest of their careers.  

Blackburn and Mochizuki arrived in September, and will be joined by Ukhanova later this month. Blackburn and Ukhanova focused their Ph.D. dissertations on issues in primary care, with Ukhanova concentrating on chronic disease, and Blackburn on the lifelong healthcare trajectory of thyroid cancer survivors. Dr. Mochizuki is a family medicine physician and faculty member at Chiba University in Chiba, Japan.

The Post-doctoral Fellowship is a wonderful step toward improved integration of our mission areas and will help us continue to develop as a learning health system. Learning health systems are defined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) as organizations in which "internal data and experience are systematically integrated with external evidence and that knowledge is put into practice." In learning health systems, "patients [get] higher quality, safer, more efficient care, and health care delivery organizations [become] better places to work."

In short, we are working toward a system that merges data, information and experience to shape our care delivery in real time.  And, we are launching an exciting program that helps to integrate our three missions of research, education, and clinical care.