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Adult & Child Center for Outcomes Research and Delivery Science

Allison Kempe, MD, MPH professional headshot with Anschutz Health Sciences Building in the background.

Founding Director of ACCORDS Reflects on Success of the Center

Through multiple iterations, ACCORDS has remained a supportive environment for health services and outcomes researchers on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

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When Allison Kempe, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, was developing her vision that would one day become The Adult and Child Center for Outcomes Research and Delivery Science (ACCORDS), her goal was to provide a home for health services and outcomes researchers.

“I wanted a truly collaborative environment that would nurture both innovative new science with immediate implications for the real world and nurture researchers to develop in this area,” Kempe says.

Over the last 10 years, ACCORDS has trained and mentored many successful researchers and grown its expertise across 12 different cores and programs.

“I'm really happy with how things have developed because I think we have an extraordinary environment here. It's collaborative, it's multidisciplinary, and the excitement of working across many disciplines has been wonderful,” Kempe says.

Focus on outcomes research

Kempe’s interest in outcomes research began during her time as a resident.

“My first research mentor when I was a resident was very policy focused. He was a great thinker and was the first researcher I had met who thought about research to drive policy,” Kempe says. “He was focused on the real world and on doing research that would change policy.”

After completing residency and a fellowship, she returned to work with her mentor, Paul Wise, MD. Their research focused on racial disparities in infant deaths and in low birth weight rates, with the goal of understanding and reversing the disparities. Since that time, Kempe has continued to focus on research related to changing policies to meet the changing health care landscape.

“I didn't want to do any research that didn't have immediate implications for either practice or policy,” says Kempe. “I have focused on preventive care delivery, on equity of care, and research with immediate pragmatic value.”

The evolution of ACCORDS

While ACCORDS has only been in its current form since 2022, the evolution of the center dates back further.

In 2002, Kempe and the late Stephen Berman, MD, put together a plan for the Children’s Outcomes Research Program. They worked collaboratively with the existing Colorado Health Outcomes Program, which was directed by John Steiner, MD, professor of medicine. The programs were small, as there weren’t many health services or outcomes researchers around at that time, Kempe recalls.

“Over time, I realized that what people needed transcended what their specialty was or what they were doing clinically. They all needed the same kind of methods to develop as researchers,” Kempe says. “What started to crystallize was a much bigger program where we benefited from economies of scale and put together methodologic cores or programs where people across the School of Medicine could come and get help.”

She envisioned a program that would support researchers through consultation, training, and mentorship. With support from the former Dean of the CU School of Medicine, Richard Krugman, MD, the new consortium was established in 2014, joining and expanding the Children’s Outcomes Research Program and Colorado Health Outcomes Program.

“What started happening very quickly was growth, massive growth, which has led to an established cadre of mid-career to senior researchers who are known nationally,” Kempe says. “We now have a resource that can really train people up, promote their work, and help them be successful on their grants because of our expertise. Our approximately 20% growth per year stems from what we can offer researchers, as well as increased interest in research careers focused on health services and outcomes research.”

Focus for the future

Kempe officially stepped down as the director of ACCORDS in September 2023, but is still involved through her own research, and as the ACCORDS Primary Care Research Fellowship director.

“I want to focus time on my research and on mentorship. I really love helping junior researchers, that's where I want to put my energy now,” Kempe says.

Much of Kempe’s recent research has focused on preventive care and specifically immunization delivery. She is currently a co-principal investigator on a large trial in Colorado and California, looking at switching the age of introduction of the HPV vaccine from what is routine at 11-12 years old to nine to 10 years old.

At the start of the year, Kempe passed the reins to ACCORDS’ new director, Jerica Berge, PhD, MPH, LMFT, professor in the Department of Family Medicine.

“I think I’ve highlighted what makes ACCORDS such a unique environment, and under Jerica’s leadership, she will continue to keep expanding this highly collaborative, supportive, environment for researchers. She’s got that vision,” Kempe says.

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