HSPop faculty named leadership in new Learning Health System Scientist Training and Research Center

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A collaboration between the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) will create a groundbreaking initiative to advance learning health system scientist training. The Washington-based center will be led in part by professor India Ornelas, assistant professor Maggie Ramirez, and adjunct associate professor Allison Cole of the Department of Health Systems and Population Health in the University of Washington’s School of Public Health and the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute.

India Ornelas

The Learning Health System Embedded Scientist Training and Research (LHS E-StaR) Centers, backed by an $80 million investment over five years, aim to strengthen research training, foster diversity, and implement innovations to improve patient care. In its inaugural year, $16 million has been allocated to fund 16 centers nationwide.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of the Washington LHS E-STAR Center of Excellence led by the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute,” said Ornelas. “This initiative will provide mentored research opportunities for early career faculty to collaborate with health systems to conduct patient-centered research. Many of our faculty have also agreed to serve as mentors on these research projects. My role will be to provide guidance on research methods and data analysis to both the researchers and health system partners.”

A learning health system is one in which internal data and experience are systematically integrated with external evidence, and that knowledge is put into practice. The result is that patients receive higher quality, safer, and more efficient care across the care continuum. The LHS E-StaR Centers initiative focuses on training a new generation of scientists who will create models of learning health system infrastructure, optimizing care to improve health outcomes quickly and equitably.

Maggie Ramirez

“As a former LHS scholar, I’m very excited to be part of the new LHS E-STAR Center,” said Ramirez. “In my role as a Co-Lead of the Research and Education Core, I will support center initiatives to recruit a diverse cohort of scientists committed to enhancing primary care for priority populations, deliver comprehensive training in LHS core competencies, and ensure that scholars receive the guidance of supportive mentors.”

The initiative will strive to recruit scientists representative of the diverse backgrounds and cultures of the communities they serve. Through training and professional development, these scientists will engage with communities and stakeholders to conduct patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research. The ultimate goal is to bridge the gap between discovery and practical application, enhancing the quality of care and patient outcomes. 

The LHS E-StaR Centers initiative stands as a testament to AHRQ and PCORI’s commitment to continuous learning and improving healthcare delivery for the benefit of patients.

This article includes contributions from Robert Otto Valdez, Ph.D., M.H.S.A. of AHRQ, and Nakela L. Cook, M.D., M.P.H. of PCORI

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