Director’s Welcome

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The Center for Translational and Policy Research of Chronic Diseases is a self-sustaining center of excellence in chronic diseases at the University of Chicago.  All initiatives that we undertake attempt to tackle the most fundamental research questions facing developed countries with growing populations who suffer from chronic diseases.  The Center has a unique range of research that includes the development of innovations for clinical practice, evaluations of the economic and policy implications of those innovations, and linkages of these findings to the study of broader health care policies. Our purpose is twofold: directly improving the care and health of individual patients that we see in clinic through care innovations while influencing the policies that affect the financing and organization of care that ultimately determines whether innovations can be adopted.

The optimal approach to the care and management of complex patients with chronic diseases is currently marked by considerable uncertainty.  Those patients that are more frail an complex, such as the elderly, are oftentimes excluded from major randomized controlled trials of new treatments for chronic disease.  The translation of clinical trial findings into the care plans for the individual patients is currently done without formal guidance for most chronic diseases.  New clinical protocols are needed to deliver individualized care to the elderly that accounts for heterogeneity by clinical status, pharmacogenetic status, and individual preference.  As protocols are developed, there will be the need for comparative effectiveness studies.  This area of translational research has implications for the health status of individual patients but also has far reaching health economic and health policy implications.  Because the care of chronic diseases of the elderly is a source of the unsustainable growth of health care costs in the United States, it will be critical to study the cost-effectiveness of new interventions and to understand their financial consequences for different components of the health system.  Apart from studying the policy implications of new interventions, it is equally important to study the clinical implications of new health care policies.  With the Affordable Care Act, there will be a multitude of policies and demonstrations that attempt to reform the organization and payment for health care.  Each of these policies and demonstrations will require formal evaluation in the context of chronic diseases.

An impressive array of faculty and staff from across the University of Chicago collaborate in the Center’s projects.  Experts from all across the nation contribute their wisdom and experience to our research and communication efforts.  If you click the People tab in the navigation bar, you can read more about the backgrounds and interests of these accomplished and committed individuals.  Clicking on Current Projects will lead you to descriptions of our projects.

I am honored to lead this talented group of clinicans, statisticians, and health policy researchers in our goal of addressing the gap between research and health policy in chronic diseases.  This center has great potential to increase the rate of translation of evidence-based research into effective health policy, and we are excited to actively engage in this important venture.

Elbert S. Huang, MD, MPH, FACP
Founding Director