AURORA, Colo. – Eric Coleman, MD, a geriatrician at the University of Colorado School of Medicine
whose work focuses on helping patients transition from hospital to
home, has won a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowship.
"I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” says Coleman, a CU professor who practices at University of Colorado Hospital. He added that he’s not yet sure what to do with the unrestricted, five-year grant.
Coleman’s work focuses on an area of healthcare that has been
embraced nationally as part of health care reform – reducing the number
of patients released from a hospital only to be readmitted.
About one in five Medicare patients returns to the hospital within 30
days. Those readmissions are costly and, for the most part,
preventable. Medicare began a system of penalties for high patient
readmission rates on Tuesday, when the MacArthur awards coincidentally
Through studies piloted in Denver, then exported to other cities, Coleman
showed that coaching patients in the transition out of a hospital, and
following up with them, helped keep them from having to return quickly.
His approach, using practical information such as lists of medical
warning signs and follow-up appointments, is called Care Transitions Intervention.
The head of the medical school’s Division of Health Care Policy and Research in the Department of Medicine, Coleman received his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco.
The MacArthur Foundation
announced 23 grant winners. The grants support people who show
exceptional originality and creativity. The awards have become known as
“genius” grants, although the foundation does not call them that. This
year’s crop included writers, an economist and a maker of bows for
Coleman notes that his work has been enough ahead of the curve that it’s been difficult to attract federal funding for it.
“Pursuing a relatively high risk research portfolio that challenges
existing paradigms has translated into being ahead of the federal
funding opportunities,” he says. “This has required identifying
philanthropic funding partners that have been willing to take this risk
Coleman works on the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus,
a medical city in Aurora, Colo., designed to foster collaboration. The
campus “has been a supportive environment to pursue these endeavors,” he
Richard D. Krugman, dean of the medical school, says the school is
“enormously proud of Eric and pleased he has received this prestigious
recognition.” David A. Schwartz, chair of the department of medicine, says "we are extremely fortunate to have Eric among our faculty. I am personally pleased for him, his family, and our faculty, and take pride in being one of his colleagues."