Caroline Richardson M.D., the Dr. Max and Buena Lichter Research Professor and associate chair for research programs in the University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine, was recognized for her groundbreaking contributions to family medicine research. The Society for Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) awarded Richardson the prestigious Curtis G. Hames Research Award at the organization's annual conference in Toronto, Ontario this month.
The Hames award honors those individuals whose careers over the years exemplify dedication to research in family medicine. The award recipient is selected by a committee representing STFM, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the North American Primary Care Research Group.
Richardson has published over 130 peer-reviewed articles, received funding from over 50 grants, and has maintained independent research funding during her nearly twenty year career. Her academic pursuits have focused on the benefits of exercise in promoting health, improving the care of diabetes, and reducing the adverse effects of obesity. Her work in diabetes prevention and management and technology-mediated behavioral health treatments has redefined how diabetes care is delivered and has expanded what preventive services are covered by major U.S. health insurers.
“Dr. Richardson's work has been groundbreaking in the very issues and conditions that we in Family Medicine deal with on a daily basis,” says Philip Zazove, M.D., professor and the George A. Dean Chair of Family Medicine. “Perhaps most importantly, it has improved the health care and health of so many Americans."
Richardson was presented with the Curtis Hames Award at the 2019 STFM Awards Ceremony. She was introduced by Tammy Chang, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., assistant professor. Chang shared, “Dr. Richardson has been my mentor since I was a medical student. I credit her incredibly generous mentorship, sponsorship, and support for my success. I have watched as she has served as a mentor and sponsor for so many others, especially women and other under-represented minorities. She is not only an accomplished leader in her field, she is incredibly generous with her time and energy to ensure the success of others." Chang adds,
"Her contributions to diabetes research and healthy lifestyle have greatly advanced those fields. She is most deserving of this great honor. Caroline is the kind of leader and mentor that goes above and beyond to support and mentor others.”
Family medicine research redefining care at the national level
Richardson's pioneering work in technology-mediated exercise promotion for chronic disease prevention has had a population-level impact on health. The largest health insurer in Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM), elected to adopt Richardson’s protocols for all members, giving their enrollees discounted premiums if they used pedometers to download data to a central databank. BCBSM found that health outcomes improved, and costs decreased for those enrollees who used Richardson’s innovative exercise enhancing program.
From 2013 to 2015, she led the United States Department of Veterans Affairs’ national efforts to improve the care of people with diabetes through the Diabetes Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (DM QUERI) program, where she served as Director.
The national effort aimed to more rapidly translate research and evidenced-based care into routine clinical practice, thus impacting long- term patient outcomes. She was the principal investigator on the VA’s National Diabetes Prevention (VA DPP) Clinical Demonstration Project and her research result lead to successful national implementation of an evidence-based diabetes prevention program (DPP) available to all VA patients across the country. The design employed in her more recent online DPP intervention trial has been used as a teaching tool in NIH’s Dissemination and Implementation course.
As the 2019 Hames honoree, Richardson was invited to share her work with the general conference. The title of her talk was “A patient centered approach to weight loss using eHealth technology.”
Joining a league of U-M leaders in family medicine research
Richardson is the latest senior faculty member from the U-M Department of Family Medicine to receive the STFM honor. She joins 2013 Curtis Hames Awardee Diane Harper, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., professor and 2015 winner Mack T. Ruffin IV, M.D., M.P.H., professor emeritus.
“As a prior Hames award honoree," Harper shared, "I tip my hat to Caroline in great tribute to her outstanding work that can change the health of many!”
The department wishes to congratulate Dr. Richardson, who serves as the Associate Chair for Research Programs. Her steadfast belief in the power of family medicine research to improve the health and healthcare of generations and her leadership as Associate Chair for Research Programs contributes to the supportive, rigorous, and highly collaborative research culture within U-M Family Medicine.