The candidate, Jane Weeks, MD, MSc, is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. She is a medical oncologist and health services researcher with an established track record as a committed and successful mentor. She is currently providing primary mentorship to four junior faculty members and three post-doctoral trainees, all of whom hold peer-reviewed career development funding from the NIH or American Cancer Society or have applications currently under review. Dr. Weeks is one of the leaders of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Program in Cancer Outcomes Training Program, and is also an active faculty member of 5 other NIH institutional training grants. Dr. Weeks'research sits at the clinical/health policy interface, with a focus on assessing the effectiveness of cancer interventions in real world settings, and identifying barriers to optimal care for all cancer patients. She has helped to define the comparative effectiveness of novel cancer therapies including prophylactic surgery in cancer susceptibility gene carriers and minimally invasive colon cancer surgery, to identify the determinants and outcomes of prognostic understanding in cancer patients, and to assess the cost-effectiveness of expensive new cancer treatments. Although the term "comparative effectiveness research" has gained currency only in the past few years, this is an accurate characterization of her focus throughout her research career. She has initiated and leads a number of large data collection/development efforts to support rigorous observational research on the quality and outcomes of cancer care outside of clinical trials. These projects are not only helping to elucidate gaps and disparities i the quality of cancer care, but also create the opportunity to assess the relative effectiveness of alternative cancer treatment strategies in routine care settings. In this application, she proposes to: 1. Capitalize on past and ongoing investments in developing large data sets on cancer treatment and outcomes to conduct targeted comparative effectiveness research on interventions to treat cancer. 2. Further develop her skills in the methodology of comparative effectiveness research and contribute to the methodologic literature in that area through a new partnership with Dr. Stuart Lipsitz, an experienced statistician with deep expertise in applied and methodologic research on causal inference from observational data. 3. Help to train the next generation of cancer comparative effectiveness researchers.
Rigorous comparative effectiveness research can contribute to addressing important gaps in the evidence supporting optimal decision-making about treatment of patients with cancer. The primary beneficiaries of this work will be cancer patients, since a better understanding of the most effective strategies of care could lead to meaningful improvements in the length and quality of their lives. But policy-makers and taxpayers could benefit as well, if this research reveals that patients are receiving care that is not only ineffective, but also costly.
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