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Douglas K. Richardson Award in
Perinatal and Pediatric Healthcare Research

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Award Information
Deadline: November 15, 2017

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This award is established in perpetuity to honor the contributions of the late Dr. Douglas K. Richardson to children’s health services research and the Society for Pediatric Research and is open to pediatric health services researchers of any specialty.  This award will honor the lifetime achievement of an investigator who has made a substantive contribution in an area encompassing one of the following:

  • 1) the effective utilization of healthcare services
  • 2) the identification of risk factors for adverse outcomes
  • 3) general epidemiologic health services studies
  • 4) patient oriented clinical studies that lead to improved healthcare delivery to the neonatal/pediatric populations.

Nomination Criteria

To be eligible for the award, nominees:
  • Must be child health researchers of any specialty or advanced degree including PhD researchers
  • Must have displayed a sustained record of excellence as a clinical investigator
  • Do not need to be a member of the Society for Pediatric Research.

Nomination Procedures

  • A single award will be made annually. The award provides a $500 honorarium, complimentary registration, a plaque, and travel expenses to attend the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting.
  • The award will be presented in a related session during the PAS Meeting followed by a lecture given by the awardee.
  • Awards will be made only when there are worthy candidates.
  • The Committee for the Douglas K. Richardson Award will solely be responsible for the selection of the recipients
  • Members of the Award Selection Committee cannot nominate or support any nominations.
  • Nominations will be automatically held and reconsidered for the following year, for candidates who did not receive the award during the first year they were nominated.
  • Each Awardee will be invited to serve on the committee providing one mechanism for turnover of committee membership by individuals suited to adjudicate the terms of this particular award.

Award Background

Dr. Richardson was best known for his research on neonatal illness severity and variations in neonatal clinical practice. This work stems from previous observations showing a four-to-eight-fold variation in birth-weight specific mortality rates, and rates of neonatal complications such as chronic lung disease. This variation is not explained by differences in the demographic characteristics of the patient populations. Thus, the variation is likely due to some combination of differences such as an unmeasured severity of illness or acuity on admission, or clinical practice.

Before these issues could be addressed, it was necessary to develop an instrument to measure admission severity. To this end, Doug developed the Score for Neonatal Acute Physiology (SNAP). The importance of this instrument is that it measures the severity of illness based on deviation of measures of physiologic function, rather than subjective clinical assessments. This tool was validated by exhaustive testing and was shown to have excellent predictive power for both mortality and morbidity independent of birth weight. SNAP, and subsequent refinements of this instrument, have been used by multiple investigators to study numerous risk factors and interventions in the neonatal intensive care setting. For example this instrument was used to examine the outcomes of several academic NICUs and demonstrated that substantial variations in practice style affected most types of morbidity experienced by very low birth weight infants.

The importance of this work cannot be overstated. In an era of intense competition in cost containment, addressing the effectiveness of medical, especially technologically intensive care, is critical. The availability of the severity score permits the identification of units with the best practices, fosters more rational decision making about initiating or withdrawing care, and provides a critical tool for the design of more effective randomized trials.

In addition to Doug's research endeavors, he was an outstanding clinician and mentor for numerous senior faculty, neonatal fellows, and students in the Harvard Medical School community. Doug was a consummate physician-scientist who demonstrated excellence in teaching, education, and research.