Learning more about how to save researchers money through decision analysis is an important area of study for Steven McCabe, MD, assistant professor, University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences. He will have the chance to exchange knowledge about decision analysis with colleagues in Italy as a Fulbright Scholar.
McCabe said it is important for researchers to understand whether they actually need to carry out a certain experiment or collect original data - if they can piggy-back off data that already exists. Using decision analysis, a method to make decisions in the face of uncertainty, McCabe said researchers can come to a conclusion about whether it is necessary to utilize more expensive research methods such as randomized trials, or if they can rely on data collected in cohort studies or previously published trials.
Additionally, many scientific questions can often be answered through simulation models. Reconstructing published research in a computer simulation and changing specific elements to come to conclusions can extend the scope of the original research in an inexpensive fashion.
The Fulbright Program will allow McCabe to expand his decision analysis research and teach scientific research methodology to graduate students at the University of Siena in Italy.
"Dr. McCabe is our second faculty member to receive this honor," said Richard Clover, MD, dean, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences. "These international opportunities allow for faculty career-enhancement along with global awareness and collaboration."
A hand surgeon by practice, McCabe hopes to meet with other surgeons to discuss research related to carpal tunnel syndrome - pressure on a nerve in the wrist that can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle damage in the hand and fingers. McCabe said there is an active, collaborative group studying peripheral nerve compression in Tuscany.
"I am very excited about forming professional relationships and life-long friendships that could help further our knowledge and make me a better surgeon and teacher," McCabe said.
McCabe credits a professional development certificate program at UofL for helping him gain a leg up in the Fulbright competition. He earned the Certificate in Health Professions Education in 2009. Aimed at helping academic health center faculty become better teachers, courses include introduction to research methods, program evaluation and planning, introduction to college teaching and adult development and learning.
McCabe will begin his work abroad in March 2012 and complete the experience in July 2012.