Dr. Kimberly Brown - 2015 National Physician of the Year Awards
Dr. Kimberly Brown is honored for Clinical Excellence at The National Physician of the Year Awards.
Dr. Kimberly Brown is a leader in the field of Hepatology - developing programs that have dramatically expanded the availability of liver and other organ transplants throughout the Midwest. As lead investigator in scores of research projects, she has done work that has led to pioneering treatments in the battle against Hepatitis and other liver diseases.
Dr. Brown grew up in a small town in rural Michigan before attending The University of Michigan. She then went on to receive her medical degree at Wayne State University.
She completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Gastroenterology at the University of Michigan Medical Center, ultimately serving as Chief Medical Resident. In 1994 she joined Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit as Medical Director of Liver Transplantation, later became Division Chief.
As principle investigator in over 30 research trials, she has contributed to major breakthroughs in the treatment in viral hepatitis, advanced liver disease, and post-liver-transplant management.
When she began her career, Hepatitis C was an infectious disease with poor prognosis for its patients. Thanks to her and other investigator's research, Hepatitis C became a manageable disease. Today, we are at the cusp of another major advance- a simple all-oral treatment regimen that has been described as the first true "cure" of the infection.
Dr. Brown is also one of the most sought after teachers in the field. She promotes better medical outcomes through balancing the explosion of new technologies with the careful, compassionate, hands-on observation and treatment of patients.
In addition, she is a popular figure and author on the national healthcare scene, presenting at conferences and meetings on liver transplantation and viral hepatitis treatments.
Furthermore, she is active at Henry Ford in multiple leadership roles, including sitting on the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees, helping to shape the institution's future and inspiring all those around her to excel.
A Personal Perspective by Stuart Diamond, Editor-in-Chief
Dr. Kimberly Brown: Principle Investigator of over 30 research trials. Interesting title, for sure. From a layman's point view the phrase conjures up a detective combing late at night through the back corridors of medical institutions looking for clues. Or perhaps we have some vague notion drawn from distant memories from the hospital television programs we have watched for generations - from the moody, but brilliant work of neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Casey of the 1960s to the more contemporary, genius investigative insights of the dangerously disheveled Dr. Gregory House.
Of course, the truth is something far different, and Dr. Kimberly Brown is a refreshing dose of reality - an exemplary example of the imposing depths of skills needed when taking on the task of becoming a principle investigator for a clinical trial.
First and foremost, it is about responsibility. Shepherding important research through multiple scientific hurdles, while balancing the needs of competing constituencies is just the beginning. One must also insure consistent professionalism; maintain the highest standards of medical ethics, and all the while demonstrate kindness and compassion to patients and staff. The stakes are high. A successful clinical trial can alter the course of medicine, impacting the lives of patients globally. A setback can delay needed medical therapies for years.
To begin, one must understand, develop, and articulate the research goals. Whether one is working with a major pharmaceutical company or a university medical center, the research design and the questions asked have critical impact on success and failure. Trial design also sets the standards by which the data is produced so that it is scientifically valid and meaningful.
Next, all aspects of the trial must be compliant with hospital and governmental rules and regulations - and above all adhere to stringent ethical standards. The principle investigator is responsible to ensure that all co-physicians, researchers, nurses, staff, and other hospital personnel are on board.
Finally, they must coordinate the solicitation of the individual patients that meet the often exacting criteria for the research. Then one must be available at a moment's notice to respond to each constituency, and monitor all aspects, and progress of the trial during its course. This includes overseeing both the collection and interpretation of the data, and the writing of reports to all involved parties and journals. And through it all, interact and intervene with each and every patient in ways that maintain the scientific validity of the study while caring for the person. For at every moment there is a patient's life on the line. All of this must be done while presenting oneself as personable and reasonably pleasant throughout.
The list is exhausting to write about, no less live it. For it does takes an extraordinary doctor - one who can not only pursue a vision and maintain organizational detail, but also hold out a compassionate hand to each and every patient.
Listen carefully again to Dr. Brown's acceptance speech. Listen to her focus and concern as she tells the story about her patient when she and colleagues helped stretch the rules - going beyond the limits of a specific research project to help get a patient the life-saving therapy he needed. How their concern saved his life, and the implications for his family and friends.
At the end of her speech Dr. Brown seems to sigh ever so slightly over the notion that she may not live long enough herself to see all the breakthroughs in medicine that are looming just over the horizon. It is a testament to what is special about Dr. Brown and all the other principle investigators who run clinical trials - who advance the boundaries of medicine while remaining concerned for each and every patient.
The fact that Dr. Brown has taken on the herculean task of being a principal investigator more than 30 times leaves one personally humbled - a small insight into one's own ignorance of what is entailed to bring about even one medical advance. Think about the thousands of clinical trials conducted every hour, every day, every year - and the people behind this most remarkable work - and we get an idea of just how astonishing the field of modern medicine really is.