How Internal Medicine Physicians Impact Medical Research

I.M. the cornerstone of comprehensive health care

Discover the unique leadership roles, career pathways and impact of internal medicine physicians.

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Internal medicine physicians play a vital role in clinical care and contribute to advancements in medical research. They are essential in analyzing and validating medical research which pushes innovative technology forward and leads to breakthrough treatments that improve patient outcomes.

As critical thinkers and experts at solving complex challenges, internal medicine physicians are skilled at synthesizing data and using it to develop solutions that impact the lives of patients and guide health care policy.

They are also changing the way we approach care, thinking critically about the ‘how’ and ‘why’, and finding ways to make it more inclusive of all patients.

Validating Research to Enhance Health Equity

Martha Carvour, MD, PhD

As a physician–scientist, Martha Carvour, MD, PHD is focused on efforts that can advance health equity for patients with diabetes-related foot conditions, including severe, limb-threatening, or life-threatening infections. For her research team, this means evaluating the scientific methods they use to ensure that these promote structural equity instead of perpetuating or exacerbating structural inequity; ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion in their work environments; and advocating for infrastructural improvements in health systems that make these more equitable and just.

For research to be as scientifically rigorous as possible, Martha believes that it must also be rigorously equitable.

“The systems where we study, work, and practice can change—and they will change dramatically over the next 10 years,” said Martha.  “Your voice, your advocacy, your research, and your empathy can be a part of that change.”

Using Data and AI to Push Health Care Forward

Tara Shrout Allen, MD, MSc

One of the reasons Tara Shrout Allen, MD, MSc chose to become a physician is because of her passion for applying evidence-based research to improve clinical care. “As a physician,” Tara said, “I am always learning.”

During her T32 Fellowship in Cardiovascular Epidemiology at the University of California, San Diego, her role included protected research time. This meant a typical day consisted of organizing data sets, running statistics, writing abstracts and manuscripts, reading updated literature, and meeting with colleagues from across the country.

In her current role as a staff physician as part of the San Diego VA Health Care System, Tara still finds ways to involve research into her practice to ensure she’s advancing patient care. She’s particularly curious about how we can use existing data to understand patients and improve their management and outcomes. One of her current goals is to find a better framework to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease in women by using data available through standard mammogram screenings.

“These normal screening mammograms can tell us about breast arterial calcification (BAC) and future risk for heart disease,” said Tara. “I have been able to collaborate with a company here in San Diego that developed a novel AI algorithm that not only detects BAC but also quantities a score from mammograms that is directly linked to future cardiovascular risk.” She also works with clinical trial data to assess how small dietary changes impact cardiovascular outcomes.

Although there’s still much work to be done, Tara believes we may see BAC reporting as standard practice in the future which may allow providers to better counsel and treat patients to  prevent adverse outcomes.

Internal medicine physician’s contributions to medical research place them at the forefront of health care leadership. Their efforts are actively reshaping health care processes and methodologies, which is a prime example of the essential role they play in ensuring health care success.

Not only do internal medicine physicians push boundaries in medical research by developing breakthrough therapeutics and treatments—they break down barriers. Internal medicine physicians help increase access to care, advocate for policies that address health disparities, and prioritize care that is equitable and inclusive of all patients.