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Darin Zahuranec, MD


Darin B. Zahuranec, M.D, M.S., (Residency 2005, School of Public Health 2009), is an associate professor of neurology in the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Zahuranec received his bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1997, and earned his medical degree from Case Western Reserve in 2001. He completed an internship at University Hospitals of Cleveland; residency in the Department of Neurology at the U-M, where he served as chief resident in 2004-05; and a fellowship in vascular neurology here.

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Funded by National Institutes of Health.

Funding Years: 2014-2019.

Stroke is common, nearly 800,000 strokes occur annually, and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. Non-Hispanic Black/African American (Black) adults have the highest stroke prevalence and suffer the most post-stroke disability of any U.S. racial/ethnic group. Even though racial disparities in post-stroke disability are widespread, little it is known about how to reduce this disparity. Racial differences in disability arise in the post-stroke period;however it is unclear if these differences arise shortly after strke in the early recovery period, when many stroke survivors are undergoing rehabilitation, or after stroke survivors return to the community. This project will address the critical questions of when racial disparities in post-stroke disability arise and determine the drivers of this disparity in ech period. Answering these questions is an essential step to designing interventions to improve health in Black stroke survivors and reduce disparities. To address these questions, we will rely on the newly available National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) linked to Medicare claims and functional assessment data. NHATS is a national, longitudinal survey of Medicare beneficiaries focused on understanding the causes and consequences of disability in the elderly. NHATS performs annual face-to-face interviews to carefully characterize disability in the elderly and measures a vast array of disability predictors including social, community and disability accommodation factors. Additionally NHATS's linkage to Medicare claims will enable measurement of important medical and rehabilitation factors that may also explain racial differences in post-stroke disability. These data sources will be used to develop the first comprehensive measures of rehabilitation intensity across all rehabilitation settings-home health, outpatient, skilled nursing and inpatient rehabilitation-compare intensity by race and estimate the effect of rehabilitation intensity on disability disparities. At the completion of the study, the timing and drivers of race differences in post-stroke disability will be identified. Furthermore, our novel measures of rehabilitation intensity can serve as a prototype for use in studying the role of rehabilitation in other diseases such as traumatic brain injury and arthritis. This proposal is particularly responsive to the NIMHD solicitation in that it focuses on modifiable drivers of racial differences in post-stroke disability from a policy standpoint and will directly inform stroke survivor and family level strategies to reduce disability and decrease disparities.

PI(s): Lesli Skolarus, James Burke

Co-I(s): Vicki Freedman, Lynda Lisabeth, Lewis Morgenstern

Funded by Veterans Affairs Health Services Research & Development CDA-2

Funding Years: 2014-2015

Despite the availability of evidence-based strategies to prevent type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), engagement in these strategies is low among at-risk Veterans. A key opportunity to engage at-risk Veterans in interventions to prevent T2DM is when they are informed they have prediabetes. It remains unclear how VHA communications to patients diagnosed with prediabetes could be optimized to improve their engagement in evidence-based preventive strategies.

  • Aim 1: To describe at-risk Veterans' current engagement in behaviors to prevent T2DM and the mediators of this engagement.
  • Aim 2: To examine the effects of receipt of a prediabetes diagnosis on at-risk Veterans' weight and engagement in behaviors to prevent T2DM.
  • Aim 3: To identify the effects of 4 strategies from behavioral economics and health psychology on weight, HbA1c, and engagement in behaviors to prevent T2DM among Veterans with prediabetes.

To accomplish Aim 1, we will survey 189 non-diabetic Veterans with risk factors for T2DM about their engagement in behaviors to prevent T2DM and mediators of this engagement such as risk perception, motivation, and awareness of and preferences for preventive strategies. To accomplish Aim 2, we will conduct a pilot randomized trial among the same 189 non-diabetic Veterans from Project 1 in which we will randomly assign 126 of these Veterans to undergo screening for T2DM using a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test. The 63 Veterans who we project will have HbA1c values in the prediabetes range will receive that diagnosis and preventive recommendations from their PACT provider via brief standardized counseling. All 189 Veterans will have their weight tracked over the next year and will be surveyed immediately after the screening and brief counseling process, at 3 months, and at 1 year. Then we will compare changes in weight, engagement in behaviors to prevent T2DM, and mediators of this engagement between the 63 Veterans who we project will have prediabetes and the 63 Veterans who were not screened. Among the 63 Veterans with prediabetes, we will conduct 20 semi-structured interviews to gain insights into the effects of this diagnosis and brief counseling. To accomplish Aim 3, we will conduct a fractional factorial design experiment to evaluate the effectiveness of 4 innovative strategies from behavioral economics and health psychology in promoting weight loss, decreasing HbA1c, and increasing engagement in behaviors to prevent T2DM among 144 Veterans who are identified as having prediabetes through an HbA1c test. We will conduct qualitative evaluations of the acceptability of these strategies to patients.

PI(s): Jeffrey Kullgren

Funded by Health and Human Services, Department of-National Institutes of Health

Funding Years: 2013 - 2015.

With the aging of society and restructuring of families, it is increasingly important to understand how individuals become disabled. New disability is associated with increased mortality, substantial increases in medical costs (often borne by public payers), and a heavy burden on families and caregivers. While the disablement process?as theorized by Verburgge & Jette and their successors?has traditionally been seen as chronic and gradual, there is increasing recognition that acute events play a critical role in disability. Medical illnesses are not the only potentially disabling events. NIA & NINR recently posted PA-11-265, calling for ?Social and Behavioral Research on the Elderly in Disasters? in recognition that natural disasters are common, but we know little about their impact on health and disability. The National Research Council?s Committee on Population published a report in 2009 documenting not only our ignorance in this area, but, importantly, the potential value of studying disasters to understand fundamental processes in disability and health.
Our long-term research agenda is (a) to test the hypothesis that natural disasters cause enduring morbidity for survivors that is not fully addressed by existing health and welfare programs, and (b) to discover remediable mechanisms that generate that enduring morbidity. Here we propose a nationwide test of the association of living in a disaster area with individuals? long-term disability and health care use. To perform this test, we will combine the unique longitudinal resources of over 16,000 respondents in the linked Health and Retirement Study (HRS) / Medicare files with a newly constructed mapping of all FEMA disaster declarations between 1998 and 2012. We will address key gaps in the existing literature of detailed single-disaster studies with a generalizable perspective across time and space via these Specific Aims:
AIM 1: Quantify the association between the extent of a disaster ? measured as the repair cost to public infrastructure and increases in level of disability among survivors. We will follow respondents for an average of 5 years after the disaster. AIM 2: Quantify the association between the extent of a disaster and increases in the likelihood of hospitalization among survivors. AIM 3: Test the hypothesis that increases in level of disability and likelihood of hospitalization after disasters are worse for those living in counties with higher levels of poverty.
This proposal is specifically responsive to PA-11-265. This proposal is innovative because long-term effects of disasters, particularly for vulnerable older Americans, have been systematically neglected in previous research. It is significant because it will address the public health consequences of a relatively common but understudied exposure. Further, a key contribution of this R21 will be to evaluate the feasibility of the National Research Council conjecture that natural disasters can be studied as exogenous shocks to the environment, and that we can thereby test and elaborate usually endogenous mechanisms in the development of disability.

PI(s): Theodore Iwashyna

Co-I(s): Kenneth Langa, Yun Li, Anne Sales

Funded by Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)

Funding Years: 2013 - 2015.

Every year, more than 100,000 patients start dialysis to treat kidney failure in the United States. Two types of dialysis are available: hemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD). HD is done with a machine in a dialysis clinic. PD can be done at home, if the patient or family is willing to perform his or her dialysis treatments. In general, patients survive as long on HD as they do on PD. Based on specific clinical parameters and a patient’s needs, one of the two dialysis types is usually going to be a better fit for a given patient. For example, older patients may not want to be responsible for performing their own treatment, and HD may be a better fit for them. On the other hand, PD may be a better choice for patients who want to be able to travel. The challenge for patients with kidney failure is to identify the dialysis type that best fits their lifestyle. However, there is very little information regarding factors that are important to patients starting dialysis, and often patients choose a dialysis type without fully understanding how it will impact their lives. Patients and their families need more information to be able to make better decisions. PD use is much lower in the United States than in other countries, perhaps reflecting the fact that many patients are not given appropriate information regarding this type of dialysis. Given recent financial pressure on kidney doctors to treat more patients with PD, it is even more important that patients receive better information when making a decision regarding dialysis type. The goal of this study is to identify factors that matter the most to patients with kidney disease and study how they are impacted by different types of dialysis. To understand what is most important to them, we will interview more than 130 patients with kidney disease, some before and some after they start dialysis. We will compare factors reported as important across different types of patients; for example, among men and women, or among those who work outside of the house and those who do not. Using the infrastructure of an existing study of more than 6,800 dialysis patients, we will compare factors identified during the interviews between patients treated with HD and PD. Based on these results, we will develop a Web site presenting information on kidney disease and questions on personal preferences, which will help patients understand which dialysis type is better for them. Results from our study will provide practical information regarding the choice of dialysis type to patients with kidney disease and their families. Patients who are better informed will be able to identify and choose the best dialysis type for their lifestyle and needs. Providing scientific evidence to help patients in their decision process is of great importance, especially at such a stressful time in their lives.

PI(s): Angela Fagerlin, Laurie Lachance, Yi Li, Julie Wright

Sarah Hawley, PhD, MPH


Dr. Sarah T. Hawley is a Professor in the Division of General Medicine at the University of Michigan and a Research Investigator at the Ann Arbor VA Center of Excellence in Health Services Research & Development. She holds a PhD in health services research from the University of North Carolina and an MPH from Yale University Department of Public Health. Her primary research is in decision making related to cancer prevention and control, particularly among racial/ethnic minority and underserved populations.

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2016 Bishop Lecture featuring William Dale, MD, PhD

Wed, April 27, 2016, 10:30am
Founders Room, Alumni Center, 200 Fletcher St., Ann Arbor, MI

The 2016 Bishop Lecture in Bioethics was presented by William Dale, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine; Chief, Section of Geriatrics & Palliative Medicine; and Director, Specialized Oncology Care & Research in the Elderly (SOCARE) Clinic at the University of Chicago. Dr. Dale presented, "Why Do We So Often Overtreat, Undertreat, and Mistreat Older Adults with Cancer?" The Bishop Lecture served as the keynote address during the CBSSM Research Colloquium.

Abstract: The US health care system is being confronted with the consequences of aging as the baby-boomers join Social Security and Medicare, with cancer care front-and-center.  Two recent IOM reports, Retooling for an Aging America and Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis, highlight these intersecting areas.  Delivering high quality care for older adults with cancer, at an affordable cost, in a transforming health delivery system will be addressed from a personal, clinical, and policy perspective.

William Dale, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Medicine and the Section Chief of Geriatrics & Palliative Medicine at the University of Chicago, with a secondary appointment in Hematology/Oncology.  He is a board-certified internist and geriatrician with a doctorate in health policy. He completed his medical and graduate school training at the University of Chicago, did his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in geriatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, and then returned to the University of Chicago.

Dr. Dale has devoted his career to the care of older adults with cancer.  In 2006, He established, and now co-directs, the Specialized Oncology Care & Research in the Elderly (SOCARE) Clinic at the University of Chicago. SOCARE offers interdisciplinary, individualized, and integrated treatment for older cancer patients. It provides a special environment for addressing the issues relevant to older cancer patients and their loved ones and integrating research into this special clinic environment.

Dr. Dale is an international speaker who has published over 50 papers in top journals on medical decision making, behavioral economics, quality of life, and frailty assessment in older adults, particularly those with cancer. He and his team have shown the important role emotions like anxiety play in medical decisions for older adults. He has received grants from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Cancer Institute (NCI), American Cancer Society, and the Foundation of Informed Medical Decision Making. With NIH funding, he has co-led a series of national conferences with international experts on geriatric-oncology.  He is a co-investigator for the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), a survey and biomeasure collection on the health, well-being, and social life of over 3,000 older adults.

  • Click here for the video recording of the 2016 Bishop Lecture.

2018 Bishop Lecture featuring Barbara Koenig, PhD

Tue, May 01, 2018, 11:15am
Henderson Room, Michigan League, 911 N. University Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI

The 2018 Bishop Lecture in Bioethics was presented by Barbara Koenig, PhD, Professor of Bioethics and Medical Anthropology and Director of UCSF Bioethics at the University of California, San Francisco. Professor Koenig presented a talk entitled, " Does Enhancing Individual Choice and Control Promote Freedom? Challenges in Contemporary Bioethics." The Bishop Lecture serves as the keynote address during the CBSSM Research Colloquium.

Abstract: Over the past three decades, the discipline of bioethics has advocated for enhanced patient choice and control over a range of medical decisions, from care near the end of life to participation in clinical research. Using two current policy challenges in California—1) the advent of legally sanctioned medical aid in dying and, 2) efforts to share UC Health “big data” from the electronic health record in research with private sector partners—Professor Koenig will explore how current bioethics practices may unintentionally and ironically impede our shared goals of promoting human freedom.

Barbara A. Koenig, PhD is Professor of Bioethics and Medical Anthropology, based at the Institute for Health & Aging, University of California, San Francisco. She is the Director of “UCSF Bioethics,” a nascent program that spans ethics research, clinical ethics, and ethics education across the university’s four professional schools. Prof. Koenig pioneered the use of empirical methods in the study of ethical questions in science, medicine, and health. Prof. Koenig’s current focus is emerging genomic technologies, including biobanking policy and using deliberative democracy to engage communities about research governance. Her work has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1991. Currently, she: 1) directs the ELSI component of a NICHD award focused on newborn screening in an era of whole genome analysis, 2) is P.I. of UCSF’s Program in Prenatal and Pediatric Genomic Sequencing (P3EGS), part of the CSER2 national network, and, 3) is supported by NCI to conduct an “embedded ethics” study of the Athena “Wisdom” PCORI-funded clinical trial of genomic risk-stratified breast cancer prevention. Previously, she directed an NHGRI-funded “Center of Excellence” in ELSI Research. Prof. Koenig was the founding executive director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University; she created and led the Bioethics Research Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco joint program in Medical Anthropology. She is an active participant in policy, having served on the ethics committee that advises the director of the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services “Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing.” She recently served on a state-wide “Health Data Governance Task Force” which advised UC’s president.

Click here for the video recording of the 2018 Bishop Lecture.

Funded by National Institutes of Health

Funding Years: 2011-2016

This proposal seeks to advance our understanding of the role of psychosocial and environmental health risk factors as well as medical care in understanding the large socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in health and the way health changes with age in our society. It does so by proposing to extend to four waves and 15 years of follow-up an ongoing prospective study (known as Americans' Changing Lives) of a nationally representative sample of 3,617 adults aged 25 and over in the coterminous United States, who were first interviewed in 1986, with reinterviews of about 83 percent of the surviving members of the original sample already completed in 1989 and 1994, along with ongoing mortality ascertainment on the full original 1986 sample. A proposed fourth wave would be collected on about 83 percent of the surviving sample (estimated respondents - 2,300 of about 2,800 survivors) in 2001, primarily by telephone and in person as necessary, with mortality ascertainment continuing indefinitely and the hope and intent of reinterviewing surviving respondents again about 20-22.5 years after the baseline interview. The ongoing ACL study has generated a large body of publications both by staff of the ACL project and users of the public use data sets for the first two waves (with the third wave to be archived for public use by the end of 1999). ACL analyses and publications have illuminated to the role of a broad range of psychosocial factors, ranging from health behaviors through stress and adaptive resources to productive activities, in predicting health, changes in health and mortality, and in mediating or explaining socioeconomic differences in health. It has also played a major role in understanding the nature, causes, and consequences of paid and unpaid productive activities over the lifecourse. The proposed continuation and extension of the ACL project will address a number of aims: (1) continuing and enhancing ongoing analysis by extending prospective follow-up to 15 years, allowing for better analysis of- (a) time- varying covariates, (b) the impact of changes in risk factors on changes in health, and (c) potential reciprocal relationships between and among SES, psychosocial risk factors and health; (2) enhancing and improving the measurement of a number of variables already being considered in ongoing analysis, including SES (e.g., improving assessment of wealth), productive activities, religious beliefs and behaviors, and personality or dispositional factors (e.g., hostility, optimism, hopelessness, and John Henryism); (3) adding new measures to ACL 4 or (via archival data) to all waves of data for both medical care and exposures in physical and social environments; and (4) to undertake more focused analysis of racial/ethnic differences in health and explanations of them.

PI(s): Sarah Burgard

Co-I(s): Wen Ye, Michael Elliott, Philippa Clarke, Kenneth Langa

Funded by National Institutes of Health

Funding Years: 2014-2016

Nearly half of patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) nationwide are exposed to red blood cell (RBC) products. While large volumes (3+ units) of transfusions may be delivered to a given patient to preserve life in cases of acute blood loss, evidence suggests that even small amounts (1-2 units) of RBCs often transfused to address poor oxygen delivery are associated with a 16% increase in a patient's risk of mortality and a 27% increase in morbidity, even after case mix adjustment. It is vitally important to allocate RBC products appropriately, given both that cardiac surgery utilizes between 20-25% of the total national blood supply, and the Red Cross reports that 32 of their 36 regions had less than a day's supply available to meet hospital needs. In short, it is important to improve our understanding of how and in what context decisions are made regarding 1-2 units of RBCs, given its association with morbidity, mortality and resource utilization. Growing evidence suggests that some transfusions may be discretionary. In the state of Michigan, nearly 40% of CABG patients are exposed to 1-2 units of RBCs, although the absolute rate varies 32% across institutions. Center-specific variation in transfusion practices is likely attributed to thelack of consensus regarding the indications, setting and hematocrit trigger for transfusions. Given this uncertainty, transfusion rates may be the consequence of differences in organizational (e.g. protocols, types of decision-makers, lack of performance feedback regarding transfusion practice) and provider (e.g. knowledge, beliefs concerning the benefit/harm of transfusions, and inclination to transfuse) factors. Interventions to reduce the rate of unnecessary transfusions first require identifying the set of determinants (at the organizational or provider level) that mot fully explain the observed variation in RBC utilization across regional medical centers. We will use the prospective data and infrastructure of the Michigan Society of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons Quality Collaborative (MSTCVS-QC), a consortium of all 33 cardiac surgical programs in Michigan, to: (1) Develop, pilot, and implement surveys to hospitals and clinical providers within the state of Michigan to describe determinants of 1-2 units of RBC transfusions during cardiac surgery, and (2) Identify the primary organizational and provider characteristics contributing to variability in transfusions. Results from this study will set the sage for a behavioral modification study aimed at reducing the rate of RBC transfusions in the setting of cardiac surgery.

PI(s): Richard Prager, Donald Likosky

Co-I(s): Darin Zahuranec, Min Zhang, Marc Zimmerman, Milo Engoren