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Hospitalist Searches for Missing Link


 

Contemporary management of infection in acute inflammatory diseases is focused on the infectious agent—and it might be missing something, says hospitalist Kirsten Kangelaris, MD, MAS, an assistant clinical professor at the University of California at San Francisco.

Since receiving one of SHM’s first Junior Faculty Development Awards in April, Dr. Kangelaris has been researching the missing link: the genetic and biological risk factors in non-critically-ill patients with acute lung injury. So far, the $50,000 grant has helped her to uncover a chemokine receptor gene variant that appears almost exclusively in African-Americans. She hopes to use this information to improve risk-prediction algorithms, treatments, and prevention strategies.

Dr. Kangelaris spoke with the TH eWire about her new role as a hospitalist-researcher.

Question: How did you get involved in researching clinical and biological genetic risk-prediction algorithms?

Answer: In my clinical work … I was struck by how two similarly appearing patients, admitted with complications of infections like sepsis and pneumonia, could have very different outcomes in spite of excellent care in the hospital. I was learning firsthand from my patients that we still have a lot to learn about how individual host response to infection affects outcomes.

Q: What kind of training did you receive that prepared you for your research?

A: I did a two-year masters in clinical research at UCSF, which gave me skills in epidemiology and biostatistics. I had advanced training in multivariable analysis and advanced training in clinical epidemiology and epidemiological methods. I also had training in health disparities.

Q: What do you recommend for hospitalists who are interested in research?

A: A research fellowship gave me the tools and the time to embark on a research career in translational hospital medicine. I think it is difficult to begin a traditional research career without this kind of training. The field of hospital medicine has so much potential to improve human health; it is a fertile ground for research interests ranging from translational work to quality improvement and patient safety.

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