Researchers receive IHPI's annual award for work impacting the COVID-19 pandemic, opioid crisis
During its virtual Member Forum on March 2, the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation (IHPI) announced Emily Martin, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Pooja Lagisetty, M.D., M.Sc., as the 2020 recipients of its annual Impact Accelerator Award.
The award recognizes IHPI researchers who have had a significant level of sustained and direct engagement with policy audiences, and a clear illustration of policy impact beyond grant work and academic publications in the past year.
Emily Martin, associate professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, was honored for her data-driven approach to informing the state of Michigan and U-M’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pooja Lagisetty, assistant professor of internal medicine at U-M Medical School, was recognized for her research examining access to evidence-based treatments for individuals with chronic pain and opioid use disorders, which has impacted national policy on barriers to opioid addiction treatment.
“Drs. Martin and Lagisetty have leveraged their expertise and research to make a positive impact on policy and practice in the fight against two of the most pressing public health crises confronting our society today: the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid epidemic,” said Renu Tipirneni, M.D., M.Sc., faculty advisor for IHPI’s Policy Engagement team and assistant professor of internal medicine at U-M Medical School, who presented the awards. “They are both incredibly deserving of this recognition.”
Paula Lantz, Ph.D., M.S., M.A., associate dean for academic affairs and the James B. Hudak Professor of Health Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, who served on the awards committee and also advises the IHPI Policy Engagement team, adds, “The work of this year’s Impact Accelerators has not only made a difference in impacting health policy and practice in the short-term but will have a long-lasting influence on how policymakers, health professionals, and researchers approach and address these national crises going forward.”
Martin is an internationally recognized expert in infectious disease epidemiology. Her research focuses on viral transmission, vaccine effectiveness, and disease severity.
Since the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin has served as a key advisor to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). She assisted MDHHS in setting up state-level data structures and developing epidemiologic models that informed critical decisions at the state and local levels during the public health emergency. She also played a key role in advising on local testing and contact tracing programs and informed university and hospital leadership.
Martin has participated in numerous national media interviews and state and local forums to educate diverse audiences on COVID-19 and the science behind the public health measures and vaccines.
In addition to this award, U-M President Mark Schlissel recently named Martin the 2020 recipient of the President’s Award for National and State Leadership, which honors individuals who provide sustained, dedicated, and influential leadership and service in major national or state capacities.
Martin thanked her team at the School of Public Health and multidisciplinary collaborators from across U-M in her remarks.
“Thank you for this honor,” Martin said. “More than ever, we have an imperative to make scientific knowledge available and accessible and to give people a place to bring their questions, worries, and ideas. And I really hope that all of this public engagement that we see now around COVID carries into the future as we communicate science to our communities.”
Lagisetty, a general internist at Michigan Medicine and the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System, focuses her research on expanding access to evidence-based treatments for chronic pain and opioid use disorders and developing multidisciplinary models to integrate behavioral health and physical health treatment.
Her work synthesizing best practices to implement treatment models for opioid use disorder in primary care settings has been cited by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the VA in their work to improve and widely disseminate medication-assisted treatment.
She and her team have also called attention to existing racial disparities in the administration of buprenorphine and the stigma faced by patients with chronic pain in accessing care. This research has been cited by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as a rationale for investing more funds into addressing equitable care.
As an educator, she helped build a new curriculum for U-M medical students and other health professional students to learn how to conduct appropriate and evidence-based care for substance use disorders.
In her remarks, Lagisetty discussed how she began her research and career at U-M in 2014 as part of the National Clinician Scholars Program. She also thanked her mentors, colleagues, students, medical residents, and patients.
“I am so honored to receive this award,” she said. “I’ve been really lucky to do work on a subject matter that means a lot to me -- addiction and pain, and to do work that falls under the umbrella of research, policy, education, and clinical impact when designing services to treat patients with addiction. This is truly such a rewarding job.”
As recipients of the Impact Accelerator Award, Martin and Lagisetty will receive $1,000 to support their ongoing research and will have their work showcased in a future IHPI policy brief.