Dr. Chris Harle, of the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI, has been named one of three recipients of the 2017 Research Frontiers Trailblazer Award. His research improves physicians’ ability to manage chronic pain in patients and has the potential to impact lives around the world.
[Photo: Dr. Chris Harle]
The Research Frontiers Trailblazer Award recognizes outstanding researchers who show promise in becoming nationally and internationally known for their research and creative activity.
Dr. Harle is an associate professor in the department of health policy and management and the PhD program director at the Fairbanks School of Public Health, and an affiliated scientist at the Center for Biomedical Informatics at the Regenstrief Institute. At the age of 36, he has already received two National Institutes of Health R01 grants. One of the grants supports the design of electronic informed-consent tools so people can decide whether to share their health information for research studies. Researchers want to study health information recorded in databases – including data about doctor and hospital visits, prescriptions, and diseases – to answer research questions.
“It is important that people have a say in whether their health records, which are private and often sensitive, are viewed for research studies,” he said. “We are testing multiple designs to determine what information is most useful for people when making this decision.”
The other R01 grant funds a project to pinpoint the most difficult decisions primary care clinicians face when caring for patients with chronic pain. Dr. Harle said prescription drug medications, namely opioids, are highly addictive, leading to tens of thousands of Americans dying annually from prescription pain medication overdoses.
Dr. Harle has also received a five-year, $2.2 million R21/R33 grant to develop a decision support tool that will aid physicians in diagnosing chronic pain and prescribing opioids. This tool will utilize evidence-based knowledge to aid physicians as they are assessing patient symptoms, and will be deployed in electronic medical records at Eskenzai Hospital. The first two years will be spent developing the tool, which will be deployed in the third year.
“By understanding the decisions primary care clinicians face in caring for these patients, we can design computerized tools to better collect and communicate the information that clinicians need to help relieve pain while also keeping patients safe from addiction,” he said.