From Research to Real Life – Science Impacting
Patient Care

With the enactment of the comprehensive health care reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act, in March 2010 came the charge to improve the quality of health care in the United States. Comparative effectiveness research, designed to improve the quality and decrease the cost of care through evidence-based decision making, is a critical component in achieving this goal.

The Medical Center entered this new area of research in 2010, as the Department of Orthopaedics joined a consortium of top academic medical centers to build a national registry for total joint replacement surgery. The limited research available today shows wide variations in doctors’ decisions about when and how to replace joints and broad differences in how patients fare following surgery. The new registry will provide valuable information on patient outcomes and quality of life after surgery, helping orthopaedists determine how joint replacement care should be implemented in the United States. The database will also aid health policy decisions and the creation of national standards of care. 

Here are some other highlights from 2010 of URMC science impacting patient care:

  • Director of Surgical Pathology David G. Hicks, M.D.,was part of an international task force that released new guidelines to help improve the accuracy of tests for estrogen and progesterone biomarkers following a breast cancer diagnosis. These tests are critically important to treatment decisions and if not done properly can jeopardize patient outcomes.
  • Scientists at the Center for Oral Biology discovered a defect in cellular pathways that provides a new explanation for the earliest stages of abnormal skull development in newborns, known as craniosynostosis. The researchers, whose study was published in the journal Science Signaling, found that when a certain type of stem cell goes awry, it leads to a new mechanism for craniosynostosis, which can lead to head and face malformation, possible vision problems or developmental disabilities. 
  • Rabi Tawil, M.D., in collaboration with an international team of researchers, discovered how the specific genetic flaw that causes a common type of muscular dystrophy – facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy or FSHD – leads to the development of the disease. The research, published in the journal Science, presents a new therapeutic target to scientists aiming to develop a treatment or cure for the disease.
  • School of Nursing Assistant Professor Jill Quinn, Ph.D., R.N., has spent many years exploring factors that influence heart patients’ decisions to seek medical care. Her latest research reveals that symptom recognition by heart patients and their family caregivers, together, has a significant impact on their decision to contact their health care providers. Quinn is continuing this research to determine how patient-caregiver relationships shape patient decisions and may affect outcomes.