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Rousing Research Through Global Affiliations

Research is at the foundation of Johns Hopkins Medicine — from basic research, where scientists study how cells function, to clinical research that builds on those findings using trials, to translational research that takes information gleaned from those trials and delivers them to our patients as innovative treatments.

Research is also at the foundation of many of Johns Hopkins Medicine International’s global affiliations. This is certainly the case in our work with Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH). You can read previous posts about how we’re working with JHAH to strengthen its existing research infrastructure for an even more robust research program, as well as how we’re encouraging collaboration between likeminded investigators from both organizations.

We’ve also talked about the first JHAH Research Day, a symposium that highlights how research interests and capabilities at JHAH — supported by the collaboration with Johns Hopkins — can help improve the health of people in Saudi Arabia and the region.

The research floodgates are wide open at JHAH, which recently presented its second annual Research Day, in conjunction with research courses JHM tailored to align with JHAH’s mission and vision.

The symposium featured presentations by leading scientists and researchers from both JHAH and JHM. A hot topic was how investigators can collaborate across organizations — and borders — to leverage biomedical research most effectively to improve health and health care in their own countries and beyond.

Participants delved into how to use electronic medical records systems like Epic not only to improve patient care, but also to inform research regarding treatments for the highest-value care. Piggybacking off this topic, my JHM colleagues helped to define biostatisticians’ many roles in research and how they can cull and analyze data from databases like Epic to shape investigations.

The theme of mining electronic medical records for research also ran throughout the three-day research course taught by JHM experts Christopher Chute, Diana Gumas, Pete Miller and Nae-Yuh Wang. The curriculum covered creating Epic registries and using medical record data for clinical research and data quality control, as well as designing studies and research questions, evaluating clinical outcomes and gathering reliable data via questionnaires.

JHAH participants formed small groups focused on a research question. Each group paired with a JHM mentor and participated in hands-on workshops to hone their research question and draft proposals, including timelines and data sources. Next, they will develop research projects built around disease-specific Epic patient registries to improve the quality and efficiency of clinical services and strengthen patient safety at JHAH.

This kind of research can go a long way in identifying patterns of illness and injury at the population level, discovering unmet health needs, and uncovering inappropriate, wasteful or potentially harmful services.

Over these three days, JHAH investigators learned new skills around outcomes research; they forged stronger relationships with their JHM colleagues; and they were inspired to pursue research projects that could impact patients’ acute care and their long-term health. For this, we’re grateful for the support from Linda Lee, JHAH’s chief of staff and longtime JHM faculty member.

Both activities highlighted JHAH’s medical research work, its collaboration in discovery with JHM, and how our partnership is helping to propel a shared goal of harnessing biomedical research and technology for ever-better patient outcomes.


Brian Matlaga

Dr. Brian Matlaga is the Stephens Professor of Urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and serves as the director of ambulatory care for the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute as well as the regional director of community urology for Johns Hopkins. Dr. Matlaga has worked with Johns Hopkins Medicine International in a number of capacities, most recently with Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare.

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