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Two Department of Medicine Researchers to Receive Health Services Research Awards


​The University of Colorado Department of Medicine (DOM) has selected two new recipients of its Health Services Research Development Grant program, which was launched in 2016 to support fellows and early-career faculty members who want to develop expertise in health services research, a field focused on understanding how patients access care, how care is delivered, and what outcomes patients experience.

Kellie Hawkins.jpgKellie Hawkins, MD is an infectious disease fellow in the Department of Medicine. She received her MD and MPH from New York Medical College, and completed her internal medicine residency at New York-Presbyterian Columbia before beginning her fellowship training at the CU School of Medicine.

Hawkins has a long standing commitment to the field of HIV, and is the current recipient of a T32 grant focused on obesity and cardiovascular disease where she studies non-communicable disease outcomes associated with HIV. The Department of Medicine Health Services Research Development Grant will allow her to expand her current area of focus to determinants of vaccine efficacy in HIV-positive individuals. She will complete a project within the Veterans Aging Cohort, a large cohort comprised of both HIV-positive and negative individuals, aimed at determining incidence of herpes zoster, zoster vaccine uptake, and vaccine effectiveness with a particular focus on the effect of obesity on vaccine effectiveness. Her primary mentors in this project include HIV researchers Kristine Erlandson, MD and health services expert Catherine Battaglia, PhD, MSHA, RN.

saxon.jpgDavid Saxon, MD is an endocrinologist at the Denver VA Medical Center and a VA Health Services Research fellow, and is completing CU’s Master of Science in Clinical Science program. After completing his internal medicine residency at the University of Michigan, he spent one year as a primary care physician at the Ann Arbor VA before moving to Colorado for his endocrinology fellowship, which he completed in 2015.

Saxon's research is focused on obesity treatment within routine clinical care. Since 2013, he's been involved with a PCORI-funded pragmatic trial at Denver Health evaluating the use of a toolbox of obesity treatment options in the primary care setting, and he also co-founded a pharmacologic-based weight loss clinic at the Denver VA. With the support from this grant, he will complete a mixed methods study focused on the utilization of FDA-approved anti-obesity pharmacotherapies within the VA system. His mentors on this project are Daniel Bessesen, MD; Meg Plomondon, MSPH, PhD; and Leah Haverhals, MA.

Projects funded under the program not only impact policy on matters such as access to health care and health disparities, but also help the university create a pipeline of researchers in this important, and growing, field. In 2016, the program made its first award, to Khadijah Breathett, MD, a cardiology and obesity research fellow in the Department of Medicine who is also completing her Master of Science in Clinical Science at CU. So far, Dr. Breathett’s work under her two-year Department of Medicine award has demonstrated that racial disparities in access to heart transplants were reduced with increased access to health insurance (January 2017, JACC Heart Failure).

The DOM Health Services Research Development Grant program expects to fund up to 2 recipients per year, at $20,000/year for up to two years. The funding is used to support research activities including analyst time, data acquisition, data management and administrative support, but cannot be used to support salaries for the applicant or their mentors.

Applications for this program are accepted each year in October, and reviewed by an ad hoc committee assembled each year based on the proposals received. The Department of Medicine wishes to thank the 2016 Health Services Research Development Award review committee members for helping to advance this important program:
  • Adit Ginde, MD, MPH; School of Medicine; Department of Emergency Medicine
  • Jacqueline Jones, PhD, RN, FAAN; College of Nursing; Contexts of Care and Patient Safety
  • Sheana Bull, MPH, PhD; Colorado School of Public Health; Department of Community & Behavioral Health
  • Tessa Crume, MSPH, PhD; Colorado School of Public Health; Department of Epidemiology