HCP Professors Awarded NIH High-Risk, High-Reward Director's Awards

Zirui Song, Sherri Rose, and Anupam B. Jena

The High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program is a program created by the National Institutes of Health that supports exceptionally creative scientists that are pursuing highly innovative research with the potential for broad impact in biomedical or behavioral science. The program hosts four NIH Director’s Awards that provide a diverse set of funding opportunities. These awards, the Pioneer Award, the New Innovator Award, the Transformative Research Award, and the Early Independence Award, are presented to investigators every year.

Three professors in the department of health care policy have been awarded Director’s Awards through the High-Risk, High-Reward program. Associate professor of health care policy (biostatistics) Sherri Rose, PhD, received the Director’s New Innovator Award, while Ruth L. Newhouse Associate Professor of Health Care Policy Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD and assistant professor Zirui Song, MD, PhD, both received Director’s Early Independence Awards.

Rose was awarded the Director’s New Innovator Award in 2017 for her project titled “Machine Learning for Health Outcomes in Low-Income Populations”. Rose's New Innovator Award proposes the creation of a nonparametric machine learning framework for generalizing results from experimental and quasi-experimental studies. The lack of randomization in most public health studies has contributed to diverging results and confusion around interpretation for health policy. She will examine the role of insurance coverage on health outcomes in Medicaid with partially randomized data as well as improved tools for cancer staging in multiple populations. This work will provide scientists with robust methodology to assess the effects of health interventions and exposures.

Jena received the Director’s Early Independence Awards in 2013 for his project titled “Physician Determinants of health Care Spending, Quality, and Patient Outcomes”. The DP5 award supports his investigation of the economics of physician behavior. Jena has used the award to fund research that uses natural experiments to better understand how hospitals, physicians, and other factors in the health care delivery system affect patient outcomes and costs of care. His research has elucidated how specific physician characteristics – such as where a physician trained, their years of experience, etc. – influence patient outcomes and costs of care.

In 2017, Song was awarded the Director’s Early Independence Awards for his project “Inequities in Health Outcomes in the Twenty-First Century: Understanding New Causes and the Impact of Delivery System Reforms on Health Care Disparities”. With the support of the DP5 grant, Song’s work focuses on understanding the implications of payment and delivery system reforms on health and health care outcomes. A significant part of this research aims to understand how policies that address provider payment and care delivery impact different segments of the population, including the elderly and disadvantaged patients. A central goal of this work is to inform the development of public policies and strategies that may increase the value of care delivered to patients while addressing current disparities in the health care system.

More information on the High-Risk, High-Reward program and awards can be found on that National Institute of Health’s website.