The New Faces Of Health Care Research, Pt. 1
The Division of Research's new class of postdocs (Pt. 1).

The New Faces of Health Care Research, Pt. 1

Research priorities and postdoctoral education strengthened by new class of research fellows 

Atlanta. New York. The Philippines. These are just some of the many hometowns represented by a new class of postdoctoral fellows at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. The seven early-career researchers began their appointments this year and represent not only diverse communities, but diverse research interests as well. Two have advanced degrees in nursing; at least one enjoys playing competitive ultimate frisbee; and several enjoy hiking and exploring their new California locales. And, all came to the Division of Research for its seminal work in understanding the health care challenges of society.

Meet some of the new faces that will be changing how patients are cared for in the future. We asked all seven the same set of questions and start with a look at four new researchers.

Sam Savitz, PhD

Why did you choose the Division of Research to continue your research activities?

I recently completed my PhD in Health Policy and Management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My dissertation focused on the relationship between health literacy and medication adherence among patients with stable coronary heart disease. I chose to work here because of the great research infrastructure, wealth of data, and mentorship opportunities available.

What sorts of activities do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy spending my free time outdoors road biking, hiking, and running. When I’m indoors I like doing crossword puzzles and playing guitar.

Where do you see yourself 5 to 10 years from now, and what kind of research would you like to be doing?

I expect to be a researcher in either a delivery system or academic setting. I plan to continue my research in cardiovascular health services and I am particularly interested in applying machine learning tools to causal inference research. Machine learning has historically been used mostly for predictive analytics and I am excited about extending it to causal inference applications.

Ruchir Karmali, PhD

Why did you choose the Division of Research to continue your research activities?

I’m interested in evaluating the design and delivery of health care services to improve population health outcomes, especially in the context of chronic pain and opioid use. The Division of Research provides a unique opportunity to understand how health care systems adapt to improve patient outcomes using scientific evidence and stakeholder values.

What sorts of activities do you like to do outside of work?

I love reading, playing with puppies, and hiking.

Where do you see yourself 5 to 10 years from now, and what kind of research would you like to be doing?

I hope to be working as an independent researcher in delivery science. I would like to continue to do applied research, specifically focusing on the effect and implementation of health policies on patient outcomes.

Jennifer Ames, PhD

Why did you choose the Division of Research to continue your research activities?

I recently finished my PhD at UC Berkeley. There were so many reasons I chose to come here! First, the Division of Research offered unique opportunities to work with data from a large health care delivery system and to study and design interventions that could have an immediate impact on people’s lives. Second, I was impressed by the division’s storied history and scientific caliber. Third, the division is full of passionate, brilliant people and there’s a sincere interest in cultivating early career-scientists and helping us establish our footing and professional networks.

What sorts of activities do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy playing ultimate frisbee, traveling, hiking, and trying to cook more.  

Where do you see yourself 5 to 10 years from now, and what kind of research would you like to be doing?

I see myself as an independent researcher with a strong, multidisciplinary network of collaborators and a research agenda focused on science that promotes children’s health. It’s difficult to say what exactly the research will look like — it seems wise to stay open to new topics and responsive to research needs — but I would like to be working on a mix of etiologic- and intervention-type work. One of the best parts of being an epidemiologist is the opportunity to bring minds together across disciplines and see what we can learn together. I am looking forward to seeing the ways research will evolve over the next decade with new technologies and analytical tools and hope that my work can harness these innovations. I would also love to mentor younger people in the field and be able to inspire and facilitate opportunities for them the way my mentors have done for me.

Halley Ruppel, PhD

Why did you choose the Division of Research to continue your research activities?

I recently completed my PhD in nursing at Yale University and I’m also a registered nurse. My previous research focused on clinical alarm management in intensive care units. I chose to come here for the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills in clinical informatics and its applications.

What sorts of activities do you like to do outside of work?

I like to bake, camp, and ski — both cross country and downhill.

Where do you see yourself 5 to 10 years from now, and what kind of research would you like to be doing?

I hope to obtain a position within a health care institution where I work with clinicians, analysts, and other researchers to facilitate the use of informatics to improve care delivery.

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For Pt. 2 of our New Faces profile, go here.

For more on fellowship opportunities at the Division of Research, go here.

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