NIH Funds Project of CHEST Foundation Grant Winner Drew Harris

Recently, the CHEST Foundation caught up with the recipient of our 2017 CHEST Foundation Research Grant in Asthma, Drew Harris, MD, to learn about the impact winning a CHEST Foundation Research grant had on his community and career.

Dr. Harris’ project created a medical-legal partnership to target many of the social-determinants of asthma and help address them beyond the typical scope a provider can offer in a traditional visit.

Grant winner Drew Harris

“Currently, we have a full-time lawyer, two social workers, and people in Public Health Sciences program as well as law students at The University of Virginia (UVA) all working together to address the needs of the community.” Harris stated. “Public health students conduct asthma screenings in any of the four clinics we partner with within the UVA system and bring their findings to the larger group. From there, we figure out how to best intervene for these people and connect them with our lawyer if there are housing or workplace discrimination concerns.”

Dr. Harris recently received NIH Funding for his approach and has since expanded this medical-legal partnership at the University of Virginia. “The grant I received last year from the CHEST Foundation funded a pilot version of my project that I then was able to share with a larger audience and ultimately secure federal funding for,” Dr. Harris shared.

“The NIH grant was awarded through the lens of implementation science. We know what works in asthma medication and environmental and social factors that help improve patients’ lives. But we do a poor job on actually DOING it. Our project addresses barriers to fixing these social needs and brings a team together to help fix these other problems that are hard for just a medical provider to address.” Dr. Harris continued, “Social needs and determinants of health are starting to receive more attention in pulmonary medicine, so we are really hitting the ground at the right time. Everyone understands that these are important determinants of health, but they lack the tools to help improve patients’ lives. We are creating those.”