Commentary: How Research Makes Us Ever Better

Feb. 25, 2016
Clinical Care: What’s Research Got to Do with It?

Research conducted at the University of Rochester Medical Center has led to the discovery of therapies that have saved countless lives. Major advances in pediatrics, cardiology, and infectious diseases have roots at URMC, and studies in lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, aging, and many other areas hold great promise.  

Finding cures is the ultimate goal, but what many people may not realize is that research improves patient care in more ways than one. The benefits extend to every patient we care for each day.

“Having a research enterprise is extremely important for who you attract as providers,” says Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D., vice dean for research at the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “Discovery is part of the DNA of the Medical Center, and that creates a constant influx of new ideas and approaches. This type of environment entices people who are curious and want to be on the cutting edge of their field; it allows us to bring in the best and the brightest to care for our patients.”

Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D.

Carl T. D’Angio, M.D., a physician scientist who conducts research and treats our tiniest patients in the NICU at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital, agrees. He says that the people who work in academic settings tend to be very interested in discovering better ways to do things, applying new knowledge to patients, and passing it along to trainees.

Research drives the care that our nurses deliver 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Karen F. Stein, Ph.D., R.N., nurse scientist and the Brody Endowed Professor in the University of Rochester School of Nursing.  

“The Medical Center delivers top quality nursing care because care strategies that are considered routine and passed on by tradition in many places are looked at as research questions that drive nursing science, and ultimately, the delivery of care,” notes Stein. “Is this the best way to improve sleep, or to care for a wound, or prepare a patient for self-care after discharge from the hospital? For all the work that we do with patients, we ask ourselves if we could be doing better. Research helps us answer those questions.”

Carl T. D’Angio, M.D.

Engaging our trainees—the next generation of health care providers and scientists—in research also advances the care we provide. Dewhurst explains that research is a way of thinking that involves looking for evidence, critically evaluating evidence, and recognizing good evidence. Trainees brought up with this mindset don’t just identify questions; they work to solve them, too. They also develop an appreciation for the importance of basic science to advancing knowledge and improving clinical medicine, and the value of working in interdisciplinary and interprofessional teams to enhance care.

Unlike other medical settings, creativity and change are celebrated and are part of continuously creating new and more effective solutions for patient care, adds Stein.

Last but certainly not least, research provides hope for a better life for our patients, now and in the future. In the 1970s, there were no treatment options for a rare and potentially fatal heart rhythm disorder called Long QT syndrome (LQTS). Today, thanks to 45 years of research conducted by URMC cardiologist Arthur J. Moss, M.D., there are multiple treatment options and 16 known genes associated with the disorder, allowing for early diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment to prevent sudden cardiac death.

Karen F. Stein, Ph.D., R.N.

“With research, our care is better today than it was yesterday, and it will be better tomorrow than it was today,” concludes D’Angio. “Working here and being a part of that is very exciting.”

You can learn more about our research and its impact here.

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The University of Rochester Medical Center is home to approximately 3,000 individuals who conduct research on everything from cancer and heart disease to Parkinson’s, pandemic influenza, and autism. Spread across many centers, institutes, and labs, our scientists have developed therapies that have improved human health locally, in the region, and across the globe. To learn more, visit