Where Are They Now?

Many of our EMF-funded grantees have continued their emergency medicine research to strengthen and improve our specialty.

It wasn’t until after Lewis & Clark’s 1804-06 exploration of the Louisiana Purchase that the term “trail” acquired its modern meaning of a "path or track worn in wilderness." 

The vast tract of land our young nation acquired from the French included the Port of New Orleans and both the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, along with what are today rich interior and western states like Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Montana and Wyoming, and parts of others, like Colorado and Oklahoma. 

Covering 8,000 miles, the explorers’ discoveries opened the nation to before undreamed-of western expansion, while securing additional trade routes and partners.  Their research into the geographic features, flora, fauna and peoples they encountered blazed a trail for future Americans to the beauty and treasure of a once-feared wilderness, ultimately uniting two coasts via a land route. 

Forty years ago, the specialty of emergency medicine in the United States existed in a similar state of wilderness.  The American College of Emergency Physicians and the Emergency Medicine Foundation laid claim to the vast unexplored territory of acute illness, providing funding and fellowship to clinicians and researchers alike. 

At this, our 40th anniversary, we celebrate twelve of our most intrepid researchers as Trailblazers for their fearless and creative discoveries.  Their leadership in research marks paths to more effective methods of diagnosis, treatment, management and collaboration within acute care settings, blazing trails that can readily be followed to our ultimate destination of optimal patient outcomes.

Here are their profiles:

Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, FACEP

Born in Washington, DC and raised not far from the national capital, Adit Ginde has lived and breathed medical science almost from birth.  His parents are physicians who emigrated to the U.S. from India.  His father, a neurosurgeon,  and mother, a pathologist, inspired Dr. Ginde’s early interest in math, science and research, prompting him to pursue research internships even as an undergraduate, both at Rice University and the Naval Medical Research Center, where he applied his problem-solving abilities to researching the toxicity of blood substitutes.

Dr. Ginde spends his share of time toiling in the lab, but he has a passion for working with patients, too, and has blazed a number of trails in clinical settings.  While still an undergrad at Rice, Dr. Ginde had already been bitten by the emergency medicine bug.  With fellow students he organized on-campus emergency services in collaboration with the City of Houston, reducing first-responder arrival times from 10 to 2 minutes and resulting in two CPR saves during the service’s first year of operation.  His experience working with patients convinced Dr. Ginde that he wanted to practice clinically as well as perform research, and he looked for a medical school that could offer exemplary training in both areas.  His choice?  Washington University in St. Louis, which offered a program that nurtures medical students while also developing strong researchers. Dr. Ginde found he practiced medicine best in the team environment of the ED, enjoying the diagnostic, collaborative and acute care challenges involved in taking care of patients when they are most ill. 

Dr. Ginde’s research career took shape during the latter part of his residency at Beth Israel Deaconess (BID) in Boston, his interest re-emerging while working with mentors like Drs. Carlos Camargo and Nate Shapiro.  After his first EMF proposal written while he was a junior resident was declined, Dr. Ginde wrote a successful proposal to EMF during his last year of residency at BID for his project Feasibility and Evaluation of Emergency Department Screening for Undiagnosed Diabetes.  He attributes the second proposal’s success to the failure of the first, claiming that EMF reviewers’ detailed critique made him a stronger applicant for all funding sources, including the NIH.  The EMF grant award spurred him to collaborate on numerous papers early in his career, which made him an even more competitive applicant for external funding.  To date, he has published more than 65 peer-reviewed articles and has received several NIH and large foundation grants.

After his residency with the EMF Research Fellowship grant, Dr. Ginde completed work on his MPH, with a concentration in quantitative data analysis.  Dr. Ginde predicts that the ED will increasingly become the locus of screening and care services for both underserved and high-risk patients, hence his interest in using data to guide optimal delivery of health services in both rural and urban underserved settings. 

Dr. Ginde now serves as assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health.   He is the Associate Director of the Colorado Emergency Medicine Research Center (CEMRC).   As CEMRC’s Director of Mentored Research, Dr. Ginde serves as the primary liaison for those who want to start emergency medicine-focused research projects at the University of Colorado.  At home near Denver, Dr. Ginde and his wife, a nonprofit consultant, raise their 2-year-old daughter, enjoy cooking and travelling, hiking and skiing in the Colorado mountains, and reminiscing about the more far-flung travels they took before their journey into parenthood. 

From his office at the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine, Dr. Ginde remains busy, ambitious, thoughtful and compassionate.  His current research reflects a fundamental sense of economy, fairness and awareness of the human dimension in healing.  He remains engaged in the research of micronutrient deficiencies that affect at-risk populations such as seniors and those suffering from COPD, working to demonstrate whether Vitamin D supplements can prevent life-threatening infections. His research findings - that 77% of the US population is Vitamin D deficient and it appears to have a key role in immune responses to infection - has appeared in a variety of media outlets, including CNN, NPR, NY Times, US News and World Report, Reuters, HealthDay, Scientific American, Parade and Reader’s Digest.  In the arena of health policy research, he hopes to facilitate understanding of today’s issues and barriers between primary and emergency care providers in order to foster greater collaboration and better outcomes for patients.  Dr. Ginde is certainly a trailblazer in emergency medicine research!  

Alan E. Jones, MD, FACEP       

Even Trailblazers must return to where they started, whether it’s to show the way that has been made through challenging country or to share stories about adventures on the trail  --or a little of both.  The returning pioneer enriches and inspires those back home.

So it has been with Alan Jones, a native of Jackson, MS who has recently made his way back to join the faculty of the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Department of Emergency Medicine as professor, vice chair and research director.  Alan returned to his home town and med school alma mater after 10 years on the faculty of Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC where he had been the EM assistant and interim director of research, as well as director of critical care services. 

Alan is the first member of his family to attend medical school.  His mother predicted he would grow up to be a doctor because he always wanted to know how things work.  For Alan, the interdisciplinarity of medicine made sense, and investigating how disease states affect the intersecting systems of biology, physiology and chemistry held great appeal.  Growing up in Jackson, a medium-sized city in a largely rural state, Alan experienced both urban and rural circumstances, enjoying the human diversity. In EM, he appreciates both the range of medical conditions he gets to address and the opportunity it gives him to serve a broad cross-section of society.

Alan’s interest in research emerged early.  The surprise was how rewarding he found clinical practice.  Today he says that EM researchers need to remain active in clinical practice to be effective.  In the ED, too, various non-medical systems come together –economic, psycho-social-- which also impact disease states, raising a host of questions researchers can take up in order to identify improved outcomes for their patients.

Alan’s first EMF grant in 2004 (with preceptor/mentor Jeff Kline, another EMF Trailblazer!) allowed him to collect the data needed prior to applying for an NIH grant that allowed him to complete his study , Diagnostic Significance of Nontraumatic Emergency Department Hypotension.  He emphasizes that the EMF Career Development Grant led directly to getting NIH funding.  Reported in Chest and other journals, the study concluded that exposure to hypotension was an independent predictor of in-hospital mortality, specifically a threefold increased risk of in-hospital death, and a tenfold increased risk of sudden, unexpected death, compared with non-exposed patients.  Much of his further research and publishing has been in the area of sepsis protocols, especially non-invasive methods for determining sufficient resuscitation of septic patients.  In 2006, Alan received his second EMF grant for the study The Use of Capnography to Identify Elevated Lactate and Lactate Clearance in Emergency Department Patients with Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock.  Much of his research focuses on diagnostic protocols that can be used in a variety of settings, such as community hospitals, which are typically under-resourced for sophisticated equipment and specialized staff.

An active researcher and mentor of researchers-in-training, Alan has developed courses on topics like evidence-based medicine and using pre-test probability to reduce the unnecessary ordering of tests in the ED.  Widely published and in-demand for presentations and lectures, he still finds time for board, committee and editorial service.  He is on the board of directors of SAEM and on EMF’s Board of Trustees, serving on a variety of committees.  He is the current chairman of EMF’s Scientific Review Committee, and since 2000, he has served on a number of committees for ACEP, as well.  Alan brings his expertise to editorial work for a number of peer-reviewed journals and enjoys board appointments to such publications as Academic Emergency Medicine, the Annals of Emergency Medicine, and Open Access Emergency Medicine, to name a few.

Even pioneers must take time for R&R, and Alan finds renewal through gardening, fishing and playing on his boat, in addition to parenting his two young sons. 

Of the important work EMF contributes to the specialty, Alan emphasizes the importance of that initial EMF grant which launches so many careers, noting that funding sources are markedly limited for researchers just getting started in the profession:  With no federal funds for beginners, EMF’s commitment to setting investigators on a path to success is praiseworthy.  He also applauds EMF’s focus on funding policy investigations, a unique area of support in EM that nevertheless has tremendous potential to influence the impact of healthcare policy in the ED.  Alan encourages his colleagues and residents to get involved, not only as volunteers, but as donors, as he has done.  “From where I sit, it’s a privilege to practice medicine and conduct research in EM,” he says.  “When you’re in a position to give back –to pay it forward—that’s the path to take!” 

Roger J. Lewis, MD, PHD, FACEP

Trailblazing calls to mind the unkempt pioneer scything through unmarked underbrush, grimy from sleeping on the ground, hand-drawn maps, an indigenous scout at his or her side.  What a contrast is the image of blazing trails through the lofty realm of statistics and study design, with a crew of geeky colleagues at one’s side, plowing through data using advanced computational methods!  Yet, Roger J. Lewis, MD, PhD, FACEP blazes trails in just this way, mapping paths to practical results for acutely ill patients and the entire field of emergency medicine.  He, his colleagues and mentees are leading the way to better and more-quickly-completed clinical trials through innovative methods in research design and analysis.

Dr. Lewis attended Stanford University with the goal of pursuing research in biomedical engineering, based on a developed interest in science fostered by his father, a theoretical physicist.  Advisors encouraged him to get his MD to facilitate his planned career path.  Enrolled in an MD/PhD program at Stanford, Dr. Lewis completed graduate work in biophysics and laser spectroscopy and received his MD one year after his PhD.  It was in medical school that emergency medicine cast its spell, offering Dr. Lewis a challenging and diverse specialty, along with a collaborative culture that he has embraced as a professor, practitioner and researcher.  At the time, he recalls, emergency medicine had the reputation of being a specialty that had very little, if any, research base.  Conventional wisdom held that it was impossible to combine one’s clinical practice in emergency medicine with a research interest.  With EMF’s support at the beginning of his career, Dr. Lewis went on to prove those assumptions wrong.

A find in the Stanford bookstore’s bargain book pile -- a text on sequential clinical trial design -- initiated what Dr. Lewis calls a transformative moment, one that ignited his interest and illustrated an area of work that would become his focus: the design and analysis of sequential and adaptive clinical trials using Bayesian statistical methods. The innovative trials Dr. Lewis designs depend on sophisticated computational methods and systems robust enough to handle them. 

“Our fundamental goal is to get to the right answer as soon as possible,” Dr. Lewis affirms.  “It takes new computing techniques to do that.” 

His first EMF grant in 1990 funded the purchase of computer equipment powerful enough to support his statistical work.  Although that first grant was small (just over $1,000) he sees the funding decision as symbolic: EMF’s review committee was persuaded that such trailblazing work was important to improving outcomes for emergency department patients.

“EMF funding was huge in jumpstarting my career,” he says. 

Since that first EMF grant, Dr. Lewis has been principal investigator or co-investigator on a large number of projects funded by grantors at every level.  He also has been the lead and co-investigator for two other EMF grants, and has been the preceptor, or mentor, for several EMF research fellowship recipients at Harbor-UCLA, where he is the Department of Emergency Medicine’s Clinical Research Fellowship Director, Vice Chair for Academic Affairs, and a Professor of Medicine.  His mentees include EMF grant recipients Dr. Heemun Kwok, Dr. Craig Newgard, Dr. Ari Lipsky, and EMF Trailblazer Dr. Amy Kaji. 

Dr. Lewis’s service to the specialty doesn’t stop with mentoring.  He has been active nationally on numerous committees and boards, from chairing and serving on grant review panels for the NIH, to serving SAEM as a board and committee member, as well as president in 2002-03.  He has served on various committees of ACEP and EMF, including ACEP’s Academic Affairs and Research committees, and as a Research Methodology/Grant Review Consultant to EMF’s Scientific Review Committee.
 
An elected member of the Institute of Medicine, Dr. Lewis has previously been an editorial board member for Academic Emergency Medicine and Annals of Emergency Medicine, as well as a consulting reviewer for those journals, Biometrics, Clinical Trials, Communications in Statistics, JAMA, and many others.  He has authored or co-authored more than 150 original research publications.

These activities and more demonstrate Dr. Lewis’s profound dedication to his role as an emergency medicine research designer, mentor, and innovator -- a Trailblazer.  He recognizes how important a role EMF can play for future researchers by creating an environment for emergency medicine investigators-in-training which gives them protected time to develop both credentials and skills so they can compete for research funding.  And from the perspective Dr. Lewis has gained serving with national organizations, he applauds EMF’s work in the health policy arena.  He notes that EMF’s focus on research on national policy issues can enable emergency medicine research to become more effective, allowing results to have a speedier impact on both how we practice and on patient outcomes. 

Jesse Pines, MD, MBA, MSCE, FACEP       

Trailblazing doesn’t always take place in the unexplored wilderness.  Ask Jesse Pines, a native of Washington, DC, who grew up in sight of the nation’s capital, and now works “inside the Beltway,” both literally and figuratively, as George Washington University’s Director of the Center for Health Care Quality and Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Health Policy.

Dr. Pines grew up surrounded by family and friends who were involved in the healthcare field. His mother was a psychotherapist who ran a day program for people with schizophrenia, and in the 1970s, his father served as an associate commissioner for the FDA.  Conversation around the dinner table frequently turned to questions of policy that directly influenced the care and health of patients.  Even though Dr. Pines shared a passion for math and science that supported these interests, he was equally drawn to the arts, specifically drawing and music.  A pianist and clarinet player through high school, that gene appears to have found expression in his own children, with 3-year-old Asher already learning to play!

Dr. Pines’s undergraduate studies balanced his interests in science and human behavior, then before starting medical school, he spent a summer teaching at a subtropical ecology program.  He’d also completed internships for Senator Joe Lieberman and the White House, the latter working for the Office of Healthcare Policy in the Domestic Policy Council.  He attended Georgetown University’s School of Medicine where he encountered emergency medicine, and also received his MBA from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. Like so many others, Dr. Pines found the acuity and variety of emergency medicine fit his personality.  “I never looked at my watch in the ED,” he says. “And given all my other interests, in research and healthcare policy, EM presented the opportunity to pursue all of them in a very real way.”  He also valued the work-life balance managed by mentors like David Milzman and Kevin Schulman, and a bit later, found he enjoyed the work hard, play hard culture of the emergency physicians he met doing poster presentations on the SAEM and ACEP conference circuits.  Ultimately, Dr. Pines credits mentors, circumstances, opportunities, hard work and much luck for setting him on a path that has been both involving and rewarding.

At the University of Virginia for his residency, Dr. Pines had an experience that typifies the persistence of a true Trailblazer.  Dr. Pines proposed an innovative course for pre-med biology students but couldn’t get an OK from the biology department. In the bowels of the administration building looking for a dean who might endorse the class, Dr. Pines found himself talking to a senior fellow in his 70s with more than 40 years at the university who told him, “I’m going to make this happen for you.”  One course number, many posted flyers, 40 eager students, a couple of borrowed team-teaching faculty, and the donated services of a local statistician later, the course ran for four semesters and was named one of the top two pre-med classes recommended for biology undergrads.  Also during his residency, Dr. Pines started those rounds of SAEM and ACEP conferences.  A few months before the end of his residency, Dr. Pines met Judd Hollander at the University of Pennsylvania.  The two shared interests: Judd’s focus on risk stratification aligned with Dr. Pines’s interest in ED throughput and quality of care.  Dr. Pines was hired right out of residency as a faculty member in the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn, but came up against a limitation:  He had not been formally trained in research.  Fortunately, with the help of Brian Strom, Dr. Pines was accepted into a mentored fellowship in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics working with Josh Metlay, and ultimately completed his MSCE. 

Dr. Pines’s first EMF grant was awarded in 2006-07 for the project The Impact of Emergency Department Crowding on Time for Antibiotics for Patients with Pneumonia.  The study was published in the November 2007 issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine and demonstrated the a relationship between ED crowding and quality of care, finding that during times of crowding, only 31% of ED pneumonia patients received antibiotics within four hours of arrival compared to 72% of patients during less-crowded times.  The study suggested ED’s need to reduce crowding to ensure timely delivery of treatments to the most critical cases, such as trauma, sepsis, stroke and ACS. 

Dr. Pines’s second EMF grant studied The Effect of Emergency Department Boarding on Hospital Profitability.  The study’s findings countered conventional wisdom that ED boarding is a profitable practice for hospitals. The study, written by Dr. Pines with co-authors Robert Batt and Christian Terwiesch of the Wharton School of Business, was published in the October 2011 edition of Annals of Emergency Medicine.  The investigators modeled various management policies for scheduled admissions that could be used to accommodate lower boarding in the ED and discovered that most policies would actually improve hospital profitability at the same time.  In addition to reducing ED boarding and its attendant health risks, the most profitable strategies would result in an almost $3 million dollar revenue increase for one hospital in a single year.

During his time in Pennsylvania, Dr. Pines honed his focus and expanded collegial connections in the arena of policy research.  In 2008, he began collaborating with Dr. Zachary Meisel, another emergency physician, writing opinion pieces for the online magazine Slate.  Dr. Pines describes the online columns and articles he has written for The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy magazine, and Emergency Physician’s Monthly, as offering a forum to get his thoughts out regarding healthcare.  In 2010, the column moved from Slate to Time.com, and continues to feature nuanced commentaries on evidence-based ED policies and procedures, especially those related to the medical and financial outcomes of crowding and boarding.

In 2010, Dr. Pines joined the GWU faculty, and along with his growing family, moved back to the National Capital area to be closer to kith and kin.  In addition to his work educating ED professionals, policymakers and the public alike regarding wise use of EM resources, Dr. Pines has received competitive grant funding from organizations like AHRQ, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Geriatrics Society.  He attributes his success in attracting other funding with the support provided by EMF.  Further, he is most appreciative of the way ACEP works every day for emergency professionals, striving for fair compensation, a seat at the policy table for emergency medicine, improvements in the lives of its members, and rich educational experiences and materials. 

Dr. Pines also encourages his emergency medicine colleagues to stop for a moment and really look at the impact EMF has had.  “It’s amazing,” he says.  “The work EMF has supported has FUNDAMENTALLY changed how emergency medicine is practiced.  And that’s why the average EM physician or nurse or resident should support EMF: Because they’re great at selecting projects to fund that ultimately make a difference, day-in and day-out, in the ED.  And because, now that EMF has helped to make ours more of an “insider” specialty, EM physicians play leadership roles in the national healthcare arena.”

And thanks to Trailblazing recipients like Dr. Pines, as well. 

Alan B. Storrow, MD, FACEP

Trailblazing emergency professionals would probably agree with the old U.S. Army recruitment tag line:  “It’s not just a job: It’s an adventure!” 

As an Air Force man himself, Alan Storrow would probably still agree.  His background has honed his abilities to lead just about anyone through wild territory, on the ground or above it.  An early career in the Air Force took him through emergency medicine training at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland AFB in Texas, where he completed a clinical research fellowship focusing on high altitude disorders.  For “relaxation” – or should that be “insanity”?—he competes in “ultrarunning” events.  He has already completed two 100-mile and “a bunch” of 50-mile runs.  Ultrarunning courses exceed the traditional marathon distance, and are traditionally done on trails, not graded surfaces.  Reaching the finish line can take anywhere from 8 hours for a straight 50-mile shot, to 30 hours for the 100-mile version.

Emergency medicine claimed Dr. Storrow’s energetic devotion while he was in the Air Force.  He liked the intensity of the acute care setting and the sense of fulfillment that goes along with making a difference rapidly.  After his residency, he stayed on active duty four more years, enjoying his role as educator, the company of his colleagues, and a supportive research environment.  Knowing that even greater opportunities to pursue his interest in research lay outside the military, Dr. Storrow joined the faculty at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Emergency Medicine, one of the nation’s strongest programs with a vigorous focus on emergency medicine research. There he worked with superb mentors on emergent cardiovascular problems, which represented a pressing need for additional research in the ED.  Dr. Storrow received two EMF grants for research into acute coronary syndrome and acute heart failure, respectively.   EMF’s funding launched a research career that, since those early studies, has included an RO1 category grant from the NIH.  Recognized as the gold standard among investigators, those who receive an RO1 are viewed as significant researchers on the national stage.  He is also a permanent member of an NIH Study Section; a position enjoyed by very few emergency medicine physician-scientists, and has served on both ACEP and EMF committees.

Dr. Storrow left University of Cincinnati after being selected by Vanderbilt to be the Vice Chair for Research and Academic Affairs for the Department of Emergency Medicine.  His marching orders included accelerating dedicated efforts to grow the university’s ED research infrastructure, from ensuring appropriate staffing to establishing state-of-the-art facilities and attracting world-class fellows pursuing academic research in EM.  Mission accomplished!  Earlier this year, the NIH awarded it’s first ever emergency medicine training grants to six applicants, including Dr. Storrow’s Vanderbilt Emergency Medicine Research Training program, also known as VEMRT.  The 3.5 million dollar grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute will allow VEMRT to implement a five-year focus on training and mentoring physician-scientists “to prepare them for the challenges associated with translating basic science into care improvements for acutely ill or injured patients.”

Dr. Storrow continues his own research focused on the early diagnosis, risk stratification, and treatment of ACS and acute heart failure, including the optimization of patient self-care skills.  The sheer number of cardiovascular conditions addressed in EDs across the U.S. place an almost insurmountable burden on hospitals in terms of both costs and crowding.  Dr. Storrow and his colleagues hope to alleviate some of the strain through identifying adaptable, sustainable, and affordable techniques for ED professionals and their patients.  Much of Dr. Storrow’s mentoring activities involve training new emergency medicine physician-scientists in acute heart failure.  Mentoring is close to his heart, and he names among his own excellent advisors Dr. Brian Gibler, Dr. Douglas Sawyer, as well as Dr. Bob Dittus, Vanderbilt’s Director of the Institute for Medicine and a 30-year veteran researcher whose work has led to improvements in the effectiveness, efficiency, timeliness, safety and equity of healthcare. 

Dr. Storrow passes on what he has learned to his own mentees and other young investigators, including what he calls some of the best advice he has ever received:  To be successful in emergency medicine research, it’s important to find your novel area of expertise, be willing to identify an outstanding mentor, and acknowledge the large amount of up-front work and sacrifice such a path requires.  “A career in research is ultimately directed at improving patients’ lives and is extremely fulfilling,” Dr. Storrow says.

It’s one trail he would blaze again.

Benjamin Chih-An Sun, MD, MPP, FACEP

Trailblazers combine skills from various disciplines to clear a path and make it passable for those who will follow.  Benjamin Sun’s early forays into biochemical “wet bench” lab work sparked his interest in research.  His studies at Harvard Medical School inspired an interest in health care policy – to the extent that he took a year out of medical school to complete an MPP at Harvard’s Kennedy School. 

Going against his alma mater’s traditional assessment of emergency medicine as a specialty that was just…not…quite…respectable, Dr. Sun embraced emergency medicine’s fast pace and infinite variety.  “It was a gut decision, really, going into emergency medicine.  But it’s the perfect specialty for my personality,” Dr. Sun says.  “I love the diagnostic puzzle that so many cases present in the emergency department, and I get so much satisfaction from the relatively immediate gratification I get from making a difference in a patient’s condition so quickly.”

Dr. Sun knew he needed to get busy finding mentors whose work also reflected his policy research interests.  One early mentor was Dr. Helen Burstin, then the Director of Quality Measurement at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and now the Senior Vice President for Performance Measures for the National Quality Forum.  Other research mentors along the way include Dr. Carlos Camargo, Dr. Jim Adams, Dr. Carol Mangione, Dr. Steve Asch, Dr. Bill Mower, and Dr. Jerry Hoffman. 

“There are three things that are essential to becoming a medical researcher,” Dr. Sun says. “First, the formal research training.  Second, strong mentoring relationships.  And third, financial and institutional support for the work you’re doing.”

“Thanks to EMF, which supported me very early in my career, and to the funders who continued to support researchers, I’ve been able to study the policy aspects of disease states like syncope, and the health impacts of policies and procedures in the emergency department.”

Dr. Sun received EMF grants as a medical student and resident. With this support, Dr. Sun completed a three-part research program to identify and validate determinants of patient satisfactions with emergency department care, and to test an intervention to improve patient satisfaction.  This early work was essential for research skill development and convinced Dr. Sun to seek further research training at the UCLA Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program.  As a faculty member at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center and UCLA, and most recently at the Oregon Health and Science University, Dr. Sun’s research interests have focused on emergency department crowding and developing cost-effective algorithms for evaluating older patients with syncope.

Dr. Sun’s early work on emergency department crowding in Los Angeles County were supported by an EMF Health Policy grant; these pilot data were then used to obtain additional grant funding from the Agency for Health Research Quality to study emergency department crowding in a regional health system and in the state of California.  Dr. Sun’s work on geriatric syncope also has been supported by private foundations and the NIH, and he recently completed a randomized trial comparing the effectiveness of an emergency department observation protocol with routine hospital admission.

In the midst of leading trials, teaching, publishing and serving on committees, Dr. Sun has found time to enjoy the outdoors in Oregon with his wife and their 2-year-old daughter.  This Trailblazer looks forward to the future challenges in emergency care, convinced there are remedies to be reached through investigating best practices in policy, as well as in treatment.