FSPH Researcher Receives 2017 Research Frontiers Trailblazer Award

Chris Harle, PhD, of the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, has been named one of three recipients of the 2017 Research Frontiers Trailblazer Award at IUPUI. His work could impact lives around the world, as he aims to keep chronic pain sufferers from opioid addiction.

This award recognizes outstanding IUPUI researchers who show promise in becoming nationally and internationally known for their research and creative activity. It is given to associate professors within the first three years of being appointed or promoted to that title.

Harle is an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management and the Ph.D. program director at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, and an affiliated scientist at the Center for Biomedical Informatics at the Regenstrief Institute. He has received two National Institutes of Health grants. One supports the design of electronic informed-consent tools so people can decide whether to share their health information for research studies. Researchers want to study health information recorded in databases – including data about doctor and hospital visits, prescriptions, and diseases – to answer research questions.

"It is important that people have a say in whether their health records, which are private and often sensitive, are viewed for research studies," he said. "We are testing multiple designs to determine what information is most useful for people when making this decision."

The other grant funds a project to pinpoint the most difficult decisions primary care clinicians face when caring for patients with chronic pain. Harle said prescription drug medications, namely opioids, are highly addictive, leading to tens of thousands of Americans dying annually from prescription pain medication overdoses.

"By understanding the decisions primary care clinicians face in caring for these patients, we can design computerized tools to better collect and communicate the information that clinicians need to help relieve pain while also keeping patients safe from addiction," he said.