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UTHSC Researcher Receives NIH Award for Multimorbidity Research


A UTHSC researcher has been awarded an R15 grant from the National Institutes of Health for her work to identify and understand trends in age-related multimorbidity. Charisse Madlock-Brown, PhD, assistant professor in the Health Informatics and Information Management Program is the principal investigator on the study titled “Data-Driven Identification of Costly Multi-Morbidity Groupings and Their Progression.”

Multimorbidity – the existence of multiple chronic illnesses in a single patient – has become a priority for health care providers and policymakers. The condition, more common in older adults, is a growing concern as populations age and the prevalence of long-term conditions rises – both of which lead to increased use of health care and social services.

Dr. Charisse Madlock-Brown

Dr. Madlock-Brown’s project will support national efforts to develop intervention strategies by completing the following three aims: Identifying the most-prevalent multimorbidity combinations, developing an understanding of the typical sequence of disease progression for each multimorbidity combination, and assessing the incremental costs associated with each progression. Her team will use a Cerner Healthfacts dataset provided by the UTHSC Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBMI) for nearly 70 million patients – a population size and scale larger than any previously used for this type study.

Knowledge gained from this study will contribute to refining treatment and prevention of multimorbidity to be simpler, less expensive, more reliable, repeatable, more personalized, and productive.

Dr. Madlock-Brown was a 2016 recipient of a UTHSC CORNET award, which provided seed money to gather data used to secure this NIH grant.  In explaining the significance of this award to her research, Dr. Madlock-Brown said, “I could not have had any preliminary data if it wasn’t for the resources I purchased from the award. With this R15, I am getting to build on the compute cluster for distributed analytics I developed as a result of the CORNET award.”

The National Institute on Aging is funding the $435,338 grant for a three-year term. This is the 20th extramurally funded grant generated from CORNET work, bringing the total of outside funding stemming from the program to $19,676,655 – an 11-fold return on investment.