Department of Community and Family Medicine Focused on Rebuilding Research

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Truls Østbye, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, MBA, FFPH, professor of community and family medicine, was recently named Vice Chair for Research and Scholarship.

Efforts to bolster research activity in the Department of Community and Family Medicine have been ramping up over the past few months, with the ongoing recruitment of several researchers to join those currently on faculty, and the integration and consolidation of resources across the department. Additionally, longtime faculty member Truls Østbye, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, MBA, FFPH, professor of community and family medicine, was recently named Vice Chair for Research and Scholarship.

Østbye, who has been with the department since 1999, says research in Duke CFM is rebuilding after a period when several senior researchers retired and the priorities of the department shifted. But Østbye credits the arrival of Chair Anthony Viera, M.D., MPH, professor of community and family medicine, in October with bringing a new energy around research.

“With Dr. Viera coming in — who himself is very interested in research and has his own research portfolio, which is a little unusual for family medicine academics and even chairs of family medicine — there is now a focus on rebuilding research in CFM,” Østbye says.

The department has cast a wide net to recruit for several new research faculty positions — looking for a mix of researchers interested in areas such as primary care, epidemiology, population health, the social sciences or health care workforce, and also clinician-researchers who could split time between seeing patients and conducting research. Additionally, another open position is earmarked for an occupational health researcher. Østbye says there also will be efforts to mentor residents and cultivate junior and clinical faculty already in the department.

“We have begun a small grants program to help spark interest for faculty who haven’t done a lot of research before,” Østbye says. “It can generate pilot work, so that if you apply for more external-type funding you can say you already have some pilot work done. It’s a stepping stone toward externally funded research.”

Østbye says there is great synergy with other units at Duke, including the new Department of Population Health Sciences, in addition to continued collaborations with pediatrics, internal medicine, psychiatry, Duke Cancer Institute, Duke Global Health Institute and Duke Kunshan University. He also says a proposal is on the table for the creation of a research track in the Duke Family Medicine Residency Program.

In addition to Østbye, current faculty with a majority of their time dedicated to research include:

A number of other Duke CFM faculty also conduct research, but are primarily involved in clinical work or teaching. Current and ongoing research in the department includes physician assistant work force studies in the Duke Physician Assistant Program, the evaluation of community health initiatives in the Division of Community Health, the relationship between health and its determinants, and behavioral interventions in at-risk populations, such as interventions for healthy eating, physical activity or childhood obesity, among other topics.

All research activity in the department is overseen by the CFM Clinical Research Unit, led by Moorman, which ensures the responsible conduct of research.