What are your current research interests?
My ongoing research is focused on three principal areas:
- Applications of clinical decision making for cancer prevention and management
- Study of HPV infection and associated cancer epidemiology and natural history
- Health technology assessment in oncology.
In addition, I am also interested in the evaluation of:
- Cancer prevention (screening/vaccination) interventions
- Design and analysis of economic evaluation (cost-effectiveness analysis) studies.
- Smoking cessation interventions/policies
What are key themes found in your research/what projects you are currently working on?
As a clinical decision scientist, my research focuses on evaluating study questions [as applied to cancer prevention/management research] where there is a difficult tradeoff in terms of harms versus benefits. Utilizing tools from decision science, the objective of my research is to inform policy-making by determining best or, in other words, most optimal intervention.
In particular, my research focuses on: Studying questions that are otherwise difficult to answer using clinical trials; either because of the need to evaluate a large number of arms, a lengthy follow-up is required, or it’s simply unethical to perform a trial, and 2) When the interest is in estimating lifetime outcomes (for example, survival, quality-adjusted life years, and/or cost-effectiveness), considering short-term tradeoffs (based on population-based observational data or as part of a clinical trial).
Given that my clinical application area of interest is HPV infection and associated cancers, I am studying epidemiology and natural history of HPV infection occurring at various anatomic sites (oral, genital and anal). Using large databases and through clinical studies, my group is studying HPV infection prevalence and risk factors, and the interactions between HPV infection occurring at the various anatomic sites and their role in carcinogenesis. I strongly believe the study of HPV epidemiology and natural history along with applications of decision science in this area has the potential to inform targeted/personalized prevention/treatment for at least six cancers the HPV infection is known to cause.
With growing cancer care expenditures, there is an increasing emphasis on value-based cancer care. My research in the area of health technology assessment aims to determine the most valuable cancer treatment on the basis of their clinical benefits, toxicity and costs (comparing emerging and available treatment technologies). For a medical scenario where multiple treatment options exist, my research strives to determine a treatment returns “the most health possible for the available resources.”
What do you want to achieve with your work and/or in your career?
I am currently focusing on optimizing HPV-related cancer prevention tailored to the individuals’ risk of developing/progressing to cancer. While precise individual-level prediction of who will progress to cancer will never be possible, risk-targeted prevention could help improve benefit-risk ratio by preventing over-diagnosis and over-treatment. With my colleagues, I am currently working on determining individualized/risk-targeted preventions to provide evidence-based data support in order to maximize the quality and quantity of life of high-risk individuals tailored to their risk of developing HPV-related cancers.
I recently read that it takes approximately 17 years to translate clinical research into practice and less than 15 percent of research findings ultimately influence patient care (Balas & Boren Yearbook of Medical Informatics 2000). My career goal is to decrease this lag time by expediting implementation and policy-making of findings that emerge from my ongoing and future work through active collaboration with implementation scientists, patients, policy advocates, and policymakers.
What do you like to do outside of work?
When not in the office, I enjoy spending time with my family. I am also an avid photographer. I picked up photography as a hobby, which eventually turned into my passion. Whenever I get a chance, I spend time hiking and photographing wildlife in Central/South Florida; however, more recently I shifted all my photography attention to capturing visual memories of the childhood of my son (Vivaan), who just turned 10 months in May 2018.