A $10 million gift from the Gehr Family Foundation will drive research to develop more effective models for patient care

Thanks to a $10 million gift from the Gehr Family Foundation, the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) has established The Gehr Family Center for Implementation Science. Under the leadership of Michael Hochman, MD, MPH, assistant professor of clinical medicine, the Center will focus its research on methods for improving health-care delivery in a way that raises the standards for patient care and streamlines operations for health care providers.

“Despite advanced treatments and available technology, the United States lags behind other developed nations in key outcomes, like infant mortality, life expectancy and per capita cost of healthcare,” Hochman said. “We want to develop ways to fix systemic issues within our healthcare delivery; and by implementing new practices locally, we hope to drive nationwide change.”

Welmoed van Deen, MD, PhD, joined the Center in April to assist Hochman in his research. Van Deen will focus her research on patients dealing with chronic pain in an effort to prevent readmissions to the hospital due to opioid abuse. The research is funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Rusha Modi, MD, will join as part-time faculty in July to research more efficient ways to treat liver disease.

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To encourage innovation and improvements, the Center will offer two annual research grants. The Gehr Family Innovation Award of $25,000 will be awarded to three USC faculty members involved in any discipline of healthcare, including dentistry, social work and occupational therapy, to pilot ideas for improving healthcare quality and efficiency. The Gehr Student Innovation Award will provide four USC students a $4,000 stipend and a fellowship at either LAC + USC Hospital or Keck Medical Center to focus on one of the Gehr Center’s current projects.

“Students often inspire us to think more broadly and out of the box, and we are delighted to provide them with valuable hands-on experience while benefiting from their fresh perspective,” Hochman said.

Winners of the Gehr Family Innovation Award will be announced by August 31, 2016. Gehr Student Innovation Award recipients will be notified by May 20, 2016 and will begin their specific projects the week of June 13.

“The USC Health Sciences Campus, with its diverse hospitals and ambulatory environments, is the ideal healthcare delivery laboratory to study innovators in healthcare delivery,” said David Goldstein, MD, vice chair for clinical affairs at the Keck School and the founder of Gehr Family Center.

Currently the Gehr Family Center is involved in a number of projects benefiting the Greater Los Angeles community. The center has partnered with AltaMed Health Services to address obesity in the Service Planning Area 7 region by improving nutrition and fitness options for residents using a holistic, community-based approach. It is also testing new models for treating depression in geriatric patients and videoconference appointments between pharmacists and those with chronic illness.

by Mary Dacuma