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February 2022
Center for Research and Innovation in Systems Safety
The Center for Research and Innovation in Systems Safety (CRISS), directed by Matt Weinger, MD, is a highly interdisciplinary center focused on human-centered design, human factors and systems engineering, usability, and safety at VUMC.

To fulfill its mission of enhancing healthcare quality and safety, CRISS conducts basic and applied research in healthcare informatics, patient safety and clinical quality; designs, assesses and improves care processes, medical technology and software, such as electronic health records (EHR) user interfaces; and utilizes state-of-the-art simulation facilities to study and evaluate medical equipment and procedures.
CRISS faculty support and mentor junior faculty, undergraduate and graduate students in human factors and patient safety research. The Center provides internal and external consulting services for numerous customers that includes providing support for numerous health informatics and quality improvement initiatives. CRISS also conducts formal usability testing of software applications and of medical devices being considered for purchase or deployment.

Current CRISS projects include:
  • CaPSLL: Cancer Patient Safety Learning Laboratory  – AHRQ R18 to develop and test an artificial intelligence based system and processes to better detect clinical deterioration in the ambulatory cancer setting.
  • IMPACTS: Improving Medical Performance during Acute Crises Through Simulation – AHRQ R18 multicenter study to understand decision-making and action strategies used by physicians to detect and manage critical events.
  • PORTAL: Patient Outcome Reporting Tool for emergency medical services ­­– NHLBI R34 in collaboration with ESO Inc to use human-centered design to develop a feedback system for EMS providers regarding chest pain patients to which they provide care.
  • HERO: Handoffs Effectiveness Research in the periOperative environments Design Studio – AHRQ-funded grant goals are: 1) establish a national agenda for future perioperative handoff research; 2) build capacity to support and conduct rigorous handoff research (from basic science questions to quality improvement to implementation science); and 3) elucidate the evidence gaps for and best-of-class approaches to relevant research designs and methodologies to carry out this research.
A complete list of CRISS projects can be found here.
Meet the CRISS Team | Contact CRISS to explore collaborations!
Black History Month
Mya Roberson, PhD led a social media initiative in February to highlight the work of Black researchers, clinicians, and staff at VUMC. As a member of the CHSR Health Equity Research Committee co-chaired by Drs. Velma Murry and Stephen Patrick, Dr. Roberson asked, "What problem is your work trying to solve?" The daily Twitter feature was conducted in partnership with Insights @ VUMC, and administratively supported by Tamarra Spalding, MPH in the Center for Child Health Policy and Holly Fletcher in the VUMC communications office. The initiative spotlighted one person each day, including a few of our very own CHSR faculty -- Dr. Velma Murry, Dr. Aima Ahonkhai, and Dr. Roberson herself as well as T32 Scholars Drs. Jennifer Richmond and Shani Jones!
Works in Progress Seminar Series
Zoom information can be found in the weekly Works in Progress flyer email.
Accomplishments of CHSR Faculty
Martin Blakely, MD led a multi-center study called the Necrotizing Enterocolitis Surgery Trial (NEST) to improve survival and reduce the neurodevelopmental impairment among newborns diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) or isolated intestinal perforation (IP). NEST results, recently published in Annals of Surgery, showed that if a newborn has NEC, performing a laparotomy is the better option and leads to an approximately 20% lower death rate or impairment rate in those who survive. Alternatively, in newborns with IP, the findings leaned toward the use of peritoneal drainage. The study results highlight the need to differentiate the two conditions prior to surgery.  Read More
Matthew Freiberg, MD, MSc is leading a new $7 million grant from the NIH to study the effect of probiotics on heart disease risk. The randomized controlled trial will compare daily probiotic supplements to placebo on the development of alcohol-related gut damage, and in a second study, the association of gut metabolites with cardiovascular disease. Read more
Wayne Ray, PhD and co-investigators at VUMC published a study in JAMA  providing strong evidence that apixaban (Eliquis) is preferable to rivaroxaban (Xarelto) for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), with both reduced rates of severe bleeding complications as well as strokes. The retrospective study used data from more than 580,000 Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older who were treated with either apixaban or rivaroxaban during a six-year period. CHSR co-authors include Cecilia P. Chung, MD, MPH, William D. Dupont, PhD, and Adriana M. Hung, MD, MPH  Read More
The ADAPTABLE study has been selected as a Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Awardee for 2022 by the Clinical Research Forum, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting understanding and support for clinical research and its impact on health and health care. The awards recognize outstanding achievements in clinical research from across the U.S., identifying major advances in the biomedical field resulting from the nation’s investment in health and welfare. CHSR investigators on the ADAPTABLE study include, Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSc, Daniel Muñoz, MD, MPA, Russell L. Rothman, MD, MPP. 
E. Wes Ely, MD, MPH, Co-Director of the CIBS Center, published a groundbreaking study in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, demonstrating that among critically ill COVID-19 patients, those randomized to baricitinib had lower 28-day all-cause mortality, compared to standard of care. The multinational COV-BARRIER trial led to a change in WHO guidelines for treatment of COVID-19. Read More
Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, was elected this year to membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), Dr. Wilkins was recognized for her pioneering work to effectively engage historically marginalized communities in the design and conduct of research across the translational spectrum. Read more
Wesley Self, MD, MPH and colleagues in the IVY Network showed that a third vaccine dose is key to preventing hospitalization from the omicron variant of COVID-19. The CDC-funded study included nearly 12,000 patients enrolled at 21 hospitals across the U.S. Read more
Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD, Executive Director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, will lead the Engagement Coordinating Center for PCORnet, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network. The Center is supported by a new three-year, $2 million award from PCORI. Read more
Funding Opportunity for Early Stage Investigators

The Southeast Collaborative for Innovative and Equitable Solutions to Chronic Disease Disparities Center (NIH Grant 1P50MD017347-01) was established in 2021 as a regional partnership to enable research to improve chronic disease disparities in African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos in the Southeastern US, led by Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Meharry Medical College (MMC), and the University of Miami (UM). The Center Investigator Development core (IDC) will support career development of post-doctoral fellows, early-career faculty, and other early-stage investigators (ESI) in behavioral, clinical, and translational research focused on chronic disease health disparities in that disproportionately affect African Americans, Latinos and other populations experiencing health disparities. Central to this mission is the pilot project awards program, designed to allow ESI to generate preliminary data for extramural grant proposals focused on disease prevention, treatment, and management to characterize the root causes of health disparities and to address disparities in the incidence, morbidity, and mortality of chronic diseases. The IDC will assure that ESI are linked to outstanding local career development opportunities to increase the participation, advancement, and leadership capabilities.


African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos continue to experience disproportionately higher chronic disease burdens compared to non-Hispanic whites. The primary drivers of these racial/ethnic health disparities include a complex interplay of social, behavioral, environmental and biological factors. There is an urgent need to identify evidence-based interventions that can reduce and ultimately eliminate chronic disease health disparities. We will apply innovative strategies to provide robust research career development resources, leveraging technology and data science to address disparities in chronic diseases, and mentoring of junior faculty and post-doctoral fellows and create a holistic, individualized, and rigorous track for each Center participant. Each supported Center investigator will commit to a development plan and work with a mentorship committee and collaborators.


AVAILABLE FUNDING: The Center IDC will award three pilot awards for up to $50,000 direct costs each for a 12-month period. Each site (VUMC, MMC, UM) will be awarded with one pilot project per year.

CONTACT INFORMATION: For any questions, inquires, or additional information please contact:  Program Managers Denise Holland (, Dr. Alecia Fair (, and Maria Freeman (

The Kenneth Wallston Leadership Development Honor Fund
The Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) has established a new honor fund in memory of our dear friend and one of their founding members, Dr. Ken Wallston. Dr. Wallston was a generous mentor and colleague to many of us across CHSR. His Research on focus of control, self-efficacy, and health behavior provided a critical foundation for the field of health psychology. 

The Kenneth A. Wallston Leadership Development Honor Fund is an excellent opportunity to show gratitude for a prominent and founding SBM member who has paved the way for many generations of leaders and helped transform SBM into the thriving organization it is today. Through this honor fund, Dr. Wallston’s legacy and spirit will live on through SBM training programs, awards, and more.

Congratulations to CHSR Investigators on these New Awards!
CHSR new grant awards (December 2021 - January 2022)
  • Aima Ahonkhai, MD, MPH: Leveraging Community Partnerships with Barbers to Promote HIV Education, Stigma Reduction, and Improve Engagement in HIV Care for Black Men in Middle TN,  HHS Innovation Challenge 
  • Wesley Self, MD, MPH: Surveillance of Acutely Ill Adults with Respiratory Viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 (IVY 4), CDC 
  • Digna Velez Edwards, PhD, MS: Initiative for Maximizing Student Development at Vanderbilt, T32/NIH/NIGMS
  • Paul Harris, PhD: Precision Medicine Initiative: Data and Research Core - Supplement Enhancing All of Us Data Resources for Nutrition Precision Health: the All of Us Data and Research Center, U2C/OD/NIH 
Job openings in the Institute for Medicine and Public Health and affiliated entities:



Posting ID


Sr. Application Developer Institute for Global Health 2105316 Apply
Program Manager Office of Health Equity 2110447 Apply
Clinical Trials Associate II Emergency Medicine Research 2112771 Apply
Project Manager Center for Health Services Research 2114572 Apply
Sr Financial Analyst IMPH Administration 2115105 Apply
Research Nurse Specialist II Emergency Medicine Research  2116850 Apply
Health Services Research Analyst  Center for Health Services Research    2117033 Apply
Sr Health Services Research Analyst Center for Health Services Research 2200475 Apply
Staff Scientist Center for Health Services Research 2200564 Apply

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Vanderbilt University Medical Center · 2525 West End Ave Ste 1200 · Nashville, TN 37203-2494 · USA

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