MedStar Researcher Wins Prestigious Grant to Study Effects of Patient Safety Program

Washington, DC, December 22, 2014 —The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) awarded one of the five Pioneer Awards for 2014 to a MedStar Health Research Institute investigator, Kelly M. Smith, PhD, scientific director of Quality and Safety Research. This one-year award is part of the AAMC’s Learning Health Systems Research program. 

The Pioneer Research Awards recognize innovations and collaborations among medical education, care delivery, research, and diversity and inclusion. The awards recognize institutions that have implemented or wish to enhance the capacity of innovative, system-wide processes that improve opportunities for research.

“Organizational courage is required to be transparent with ourselves, with our patients, and with the communities we serve,” Smith said. “This award to the Research Institute is in recognition of MedStar’s commitment to transforming health care through transparency, safety improvement, and research partnership.”

The aim of Smith’s proposal, “Implementation of a Communication and Resolution Program – an Innovative Approach to Creating a Continuously Learning Healthcare System” is to implement and evaluate a communication and resolution program throughout MedStar Health hospitals. Communication and resolution programs are one method used to make continuous process and quality improvement transparent within a healthcare organization.

David Mayer, MD, vice president of Quality and Safety for MedStar Health, explained the significance of the award. "The Pioneer Award supports cross-cutting programs that are expected to have an exceptionally high impact on the provision of patient care by developing bold and innovative approaches that offer the potential for rapid progress,” he said. “Winning this prestigious award highlights Kelly Smith's growing national presence in the health sciences research field while bringing additional national attention to the wonderful work being done by many at the MedStar Health Research Institute."

The award will foster ongoing efforts in support of MedStar Health’s High Reliability Organization journey to enhance transparency, patient engagement and patient safety event reporting and catalyze health services and implementation research throughout the health system.

About MedStar Health Research Institute

The MedStar Health Research Institute is the research arm of MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region. MHRI provides scientific, administrative and regulatory support for research programs throughout the MedStar Health system. MHRI’s expertise includes translational research into disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. These programs complement the key clinical services and teaching programs in the 10 MedStar hospitals and other MedStar entities. Visit us at

About The Association Of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)

The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association representing all 141 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and nearly 90 academic and scientific societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC represents 148,000 faculty members, 83,000 medical students, and 115,000 resident physicians. Additional information about the AAMC and U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals is available at​​

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