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Kara Odom Walker, MD, to Speak on Revolutionizing Primary Care Research to Improve Health

February 13, 2015—Kara Odom Walker, MD, MPH, MSHS, deputy chief science officer of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), will take the main stage at the 2015 STFM Annual Spring Conference to present “What Is PCORI Doing? Primary Care and Beyond.” Dr Walker will outline how PCORI is revolutionizing primary care by providing researchers the tools they need to work faster and more economically and by providing primary care teams the information they need to provide the best care possible.

Dr Walker will introduce attendees to PCORI’s largest initiative, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet), where researchers will be able to conduct studies using a national database of health information under appropriate privacy and security rules that were developed with patients’ help. 

“The nation’s capacity to conduct clinical research quickly, efficiently, and less expensively remains limited,” says Dr Walker. “PCORnet is an unprecedented effort to build a large network of networks designed to allow clinical research to be conducted in real-world settings faster and at lower cost than before.”

Currently, researchers faced many road blocks as information networks couldn’t easily communicate or connect with each other. With PCORnet, researchers will be able to quickly access health data from a series of networks and use their results to guide primary care treatment on a national scale. The first clinical trial to be conducted through PCORnet will happen this year and will be a demonstration study of what dosage of aspirin is best for patients with coronary artery disease. Dr Walker hopes to inspire conference attendees to apply for one of PCORI’s various funding opportunities this year or to be a researcher in the second PCORnet demonstration study.

“We hope that teachers of family medicine will help us find the best questions, be engaged, and help disseminate the evidence,” says Dr Walker. She says family medicine educators are invaluable to the nation’s health, as they use study results in their everyday care of patients and teach the future family physicians new ways to provide timely and personalized care.

Dr Walker is a family physician and health services researcher and has experience in patient care, research, and management. As part of PCORl's Executive Leadership Team, she is responsible for supporting the Board's relations with PCORI staff through the Science Oversight Committee, implementing PCORl's Research Agenda, and refining the agenda in response to input from patients and other stakeholders across the country. Dr Walker joined PCORI from the University of California, San Francisco where she was assistant clinical professor in Family and Community Medicine, saw patients in a primary care setting, taught medical students and residents, and pursued health services research. Her research centered on improving health care delivery through integrated care, with a special interest in vulnerable populations.

The STFM Annual Spring Conference is April 25–29 in Orlando, FL. Get the knowledge, motivation, and resources you need, learn from the success of your peers, and exchange ideas with 1,500 of your family medicine colleagues this spring. Find more information and register online at

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