NEW YORK (July 22, 2020)—Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian have realigned the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research to address the intersection of research and practice. The newly named Department of Population Health Sciences, led by distinguished health services researcher, information scientist and leader Dr. Rainu Kaushal, aims to improve the health of populations through data-driven research, innovative technology and novel education programs.
The department will leverage expertise in data science, health services research, health economics and public health, combined with an increased emphasis on epidemiology to holistically evaluate the drivers that ultimately contribute to population health.
“As physicians and scientists, our most fundamental mission is to improve the lives of our patients,” said Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine. “Critical to this work is a comprehensive understanding of how biology, society and policy can contribute to health outcomes—and how we can intervene. Our new Department of Population Health Sciences will lead the way in this arena and make a difference for our patients and communities.”
“NewYork-Presbyterian has a long history of working to reduce health disparities in the communities we serve,” said Dr. Steven J. Corwin, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian. “Taking care of patients’ immediate medical needs is critically important, but understanding the complex policies that impact public health is also necessary to improve outcomes among our patient populations. With a focus on research and education, the new Department of Population Health Sciences will allow us to better address the well-being of all our patients.”
“Over the last several years, there has been a national consensus on how the exploration of population health can serve as a vital way for researchers to assess the underlying health challenges facing individuals,” said Dr. Kaushal, chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine and physician-in-chief of population health sciences at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “The renamed Department of Population Health Sciences reflects the importance of this work, our faculty’s methodological expertise and the effect they have on directly improving patients’ lives and public health.”
To support the Department of Population Health Sciences’ refocused mission, the department has established a new Division of Epidemiology and collaborated with Weill Cornell Medicine’s Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center to recruit esteemed cancer epidemiologist Dr. Rulla Tamimi from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to serve as its chief. In her new role, Dr. Tamimi, who will also serve as associate director for population science at the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine, will lead a team of epidemiologists to explore the genetic, molecular and lifestyle predictors of health outcomes and disease, with a particular focus on cancer.
Additionally, Dr. Kaushal has appointed accomplished health services researcher Dr. Bruce Schackman as the department’s executive vice chair. In this role, Dr. Schackman will spearhead faculty development and recruitment efforts, educational programs, and facilitate academic success. Dr. Schackman joins the leadership team with Dr. Karla Ballman, vice chair for education and division chief of biostatistics; Dr. Lawrence Casalino, division chief of healthcare policy and economics; Dr. Said Ibrahim, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion and division chief of healthcare delivery science and innovation; and Dr. Jyotishman Pathak, vice chair for entrepreneurship and division chief of health informatics.
Uniting the disciplines of medicine, public health, health data science and health informatics, the department and its researchers, working in partnership with NewYork-Presbyterian, will use evidence-based approaches to bring science to the bedside with real-world interventions. Investigators are currently applying this paradigm to understand the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, driven by the virus that causes COVID-19. For example, researchers have developed predictive modeling tools to track the virus’s spread and anticipate patient volume. They have also been working to identify how and why COVID-19 may disproportionately affect specific populations over others and cause health disparities. Additionally, investigators are evaluating in a clinical trial the effects of an anti-malaria drug on protecting front-line healthcare workers from contracting the virus.
Moreover, department researchers will engage in new research opportunities created by NewYork-Presbyterian’s and Weill Cornell Medicine’s expansions into Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Investigators will also explore patterns and trends across communities by leveraging comprehensive, diverse patient data collected by INSIGHT Clinical Research Network—the country’s largest urban clinical data network, which Dr. Kaushal leads—as well as strong relationships with colleagues at Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island.
“We are thrilled to partner with our colleagues who share our mission to improve the quality of care delivery and dismantle the barrier between research and patients,” Dr. Kaushal said. “Together, we can transform our knowledge into actionable solutions that touch on everyday lives.”
Weill Cornell Medicine is committed to excellence in patient care, scientific discovery and the education of future physicians in New York City and around the world. The doctors and scientists of Weill Cornell Medicine—faculty from Weill Cornell Medical College, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and Weill Cornell Physician Organization—are engaged in world-class clinical care and cutting-edge research that connect patients to the latest treatment innovations and prevention strategies. Located in the heart of the Upper East Side's scientific corridor, Weill Cornell Medicine's powerful network of collaborators extends to its parent university Cornell University; to Qatar, where Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar offers a Cornell University medical degree; and to programs in Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Weill Cornell Medicine faculty provide comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens and NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. Weill Cornell Medicine is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.
NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s most comprehensive, integrated academic healthcare systems, encompassing 10 hospital campuses across the Greater New York area, more than 200 primary and specialty care clinics and medical groups, and an array of telemedicine services.
A leader in medical education, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is the only academic medical center in the nation affiliated with two world-class medical schools, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. This collaboration means patients have access to the country’s leading physicians, the full range of medical specialties, latest innovations in care, and research that is developing cures and saving lives.
Ranked the #5 hospital in the nation and #1 in New York in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” survey, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is also recognized as among the best in the nation in every pediatric specialty evaluated in the U.S. News “Best Children’s Hospitals” survey. Founded nearly 250 years ago, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital has a long legacy of medical breakthroughs and innovation, from the invention of the Pap test to the first successful pediatric heart transplant, to pioneering the groundbreaking heart valve replacement procedure called TAVR.
NewYork-Presbyterian’s 47,000 employees and affiliated physicians are dedicated to providing the highest quality, most compassionate care to New Yorkers and patients from across the country and around the world. NewYork-Presbyterian hospitals are not for profit and provide more than $1 billion in benefits every year to the community, including medical care, school-based health clinics and support for more than 300 community programs and activities.
This story originally appeared in the WCM Newsroom.