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Dr. Yongkang Zhang Receives K Award from the NIH

Dr. Yongkang Zhang

Dr. Yongkang Zhang, research associate in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM), has been awarded the K99/R00 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his study on improving care for high-need, high-cost (HNHC) older adults.

High-need, high-cost older adults are a small group of individuals representing a disproportionate share of healthcare utilization and experiencing preventable quality and safety problems. Improving care for this population is challenging because of their complex, medical, behavioral, and social conditions, as well as the instability of their healthcare utilization. Dr. Zhang’s project aims to develop a prediction model for HNHC older adults to better inform patient-centered clinical decision-making, help target quality improvement interventions, and prioritize the allocation of scarce healthcare resources.

The K99/R00 program is a Pathway to Independence Award that fosters mentored researchers and their transition to independent roles. The K99 phase provides support for research training and career development, while the R00 phase provides support for independent research, pending on a tenure-track faculty position after the K99 period. Dr. Zhang considers the award to be a milestone in his career: “It means that my prior training and research experience have placed me in a great position to benefit from further mentorship and support. It also offers me an important opportunity to further develop new skills and achieve more in the future.

Dr. Zhang’s primary mentor at WCM is Dr. Rainu Kaushal, senior associate dean for clinical research and chair of population health sciences. “In the past three years, we’ve been working on projects related to HNHC patients,” he related. “She has established a strong infrastructure to support my K award and inspired me to pursue additional studies in this area.” Dr. Zhang also credits the efforts of co-mentors, Drs. Larry Casalino, Yuhua Bao, Fei Wang, and Mark Lachs, with whom he worked closely before and during the process of developing his K proposal. “Their input was indispensable to the success of this proposal and inspired me to help others advance their career,” he remarked. “I’d also like to thank my collaborator on this grant, Dr. James Flory, and the people who wrote me excellent letters of recommendation, including Drs. Mark Unruh, Jessica Ancker, Valerie Yeager (Indiana University), and Allison McCoy (Vanderbilt University).”

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