Under Secretary's Award in Health Services Research
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H. Gilbert Welch, MD, MPH is the recipient of the 2009 Under Secretary's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research. Dr. Welch clearly met the three major criteria for this award by: improving our understanding of factors that affect the health of veterans and improving the quality of their care, contributing to the future of VA health services research by inspiring and training the next generation of investigators, and enhancing the visibility of VA research through national recognition within the research community.
Dr. Welch has had an extremely successful research career and has made substantive contributions in the following areas: technology assessment, health policy, and understanding the benefits and harms of early diagnosis. For example, Dr. Welch is exploring the concept of expanding the definition of disease to avoid what might lead to more aggressive testing or cause newly diagnosed patients to receive and suffer from unnecessary treatment. His views on early disease detection have appeared in a series of op-ed pieces in major newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, and in a well-received book titled Should I be Tested for Cancer: Maybe Not and Here's Why. Through this book, patients develop an understanding of the benefits and harms of screening for lung, prostate, colon, and other cancers. Dr. Welch also has anticipated trends in medical care. At a time when routine office visits were the standard approach to the care of chronic disease, he worked to examine the value of periodic telephone check-ups as a cheaper but still effective alternative. His research in all of these areas has helped VA policymakers understand the impact of adopting new technologies or broader disease definitions.
Since 1991 Dr. Welch has been part of the VA Outcomes Group, which he helped establish, at the White River Junction VA Medical Center. He also has been a Professor of Medicine and of Community and Family Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School since 2000. Dr. Welch devotes the majority of his time to research and the mentorship of fellows and junior faculty, including several HSR&D Career Development awardees, in addition to his clinical responsibilities at the VAMC. He has more than 140 publications that include journal articles, books, and book chapters, with an impressive 12 articles in The New England Journal of Medicine and 40 in JAMA. He also has been invited to present his research nearly 50 times at professional and scientific meetings.
Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Welch has worked to improve the health of veterans and has made a significant impact on the quality of their care. It is with great pleasure that VA presents Dr. H. Gilbert Welch with the prestigious Under Secretary's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research.
Dr. Welch's Presentation