UMN Family Medicine and Community Health Discovery Fund

Advancing the art and science of family medicine

The Family Medicine and Community Health Discovery Fund supports new projects that will revolutionize the way we care for individuals, families, and communities. Your support can help us adapt to the changing healthcare environment and improve the ways we teach, research, and care for patients.

Discovery Fund projects

Over the years, we have seen how a small amount of seed money can launch an innovative idea into practice. We are excited about the promise that Discovery Fund projects hold for family medicine.

2023-2024 Project

Relationship between body weight, the diagnosis of unintentional weight loss, and stage of cancer at diagnosis in Olmsted County residents
Investigator: Jason Ricco, MD, MPH

It is increasingly acknowledged that the societal stigma towards individuals living in larger bodies occurs within the healthcare setting, and can be a risk factor for poor health outcomes independent of those conditions associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome. Healthcare providers have been shown to hold strong negative attitudes towards patients living in larger bodies, and these attitudes are often unconscious. Additionally, individuals living in larger bodies may be less likely to seek healthcare due to concerns for facing stigma, bias, and judgment from healthcare professionals. Dr. Ricco’s project aims to explore the potential role of weight bias in the delayed diagnosis of cancer through the mechanism of whether unintended weight loss is correctly identified and evaluated. The study team is anticipating further work in this area of investigation exploring the potential impact of weight bias and stigma on cancer and plans to pursue larger funding with pilot data collected from the Discovery Fund grant.

Co-investigators on this project include Katie Loth, PhD, MPH, Leslie Sim, PhD (Mayo Clinic), Jocelyn Lebow, PhD (Mayo Clinic), and David Marshall, MD, MPH.

2022-2023 Project

South Asian-Centered Heart Healthy Education (SACHHE)
Investigator: Roli Dwivedi, MD

Dr. Dwivedi's project will use a preliminary survey, pre- and post-implementation focus groups, and reiterative community feedback to examine the awareness of cardiovascular disparities amongst a cohort of South Asian participants and their willingness for behavior change following a series of community-delivered and culturally-focused heart-healthy education workshops as well as a co-created cookbook.

The primary goal of this study is to analyze whether or not the study interventions resulted in participants' increased awareness of cardiovascular health disparities amongst South Asians. Additionally, the study will examine whether or not the study interventions resulted in participants' increased willingness to incorporate health promotion and disease prevention behavior changes into their daily life.

Co-investigators/collaborators on this project include medical students Prasanna Vankina, Nandini Avula, and Vineet Raman as well as Shamily Jadhav.

2021-2022 Project

Developing a Patient and Community Informed Measure of Patient Perceptions of Discrimination in the Healthcare Setting (Patient Perceptions of Discrimination Project)
Investigator: Andrea Westby, MD

Dr. Westby’s project seeks to develop a point of care patient survey based on patient and community input that can meaningfully measure the experience of bias or discrimination in a healthcare setting. The main objectives of Dr. Westby’s study include:

1) to characterize the communication and interpersonal behavior that contributes to perceptions of discrimination for patients in the health system,
2) to develop an instrument that can be used at point of care to capture patient experience, and
3) to develop an instrument that can provide specific and actionable feedback to all care team members.

Co-investigators on this project are Dr. Taj Mustapha from the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics, and Dr. James Conniff, from the DFMCH’s Duluth Family Medicine residency program.

2020-2021 Project

Assessing Impact of Department Chronic Opioid Prescribing Processes
Investigators: Katherine Montag Schafer, PharmD, and Kathryn Brown, MD, MS

The goal of this project is to determine whether implementation of a standardized process for assessment and treatment with chronic opioids improves patient safety as measured by daily opioid dose prescribed (morphine milligram equivalent), co-prescribed sedatives, and appropriate distribution of naloxone. Investigators will look at whether improvements in prescribing profiles at a specific clinic can be causally associated with implementation of a standardized process for opiate prescribing at that clinic. They will also investigate whether the improvements were consistent across sites where the process was implemented.

Past projects


Use of Thirty Minute Office Blood Pressure Monitoring to Improve Blood Pressure Measurement in a Family Medicine Clinic

This study is a continuation of research led by Ann Philbrick, PharmD, to determine whether using thirty-minute office blood pressure monitoring (OBP-30) significantly impacts clinical care in a family medicine clinic. Previous data collected by Dr. Philbrick indicates that OBP-30 results in lower blood pressures than standard office readings; the current study will quantify the difference in results between the two methods and assess the impact on the provider's treatment plan. In addition, interpreters will be hired to aid in the recruitment of a more inclusive, non-English speaking participant pool.

Developing a New Model for Community Integrated Academic Family Medicine

Led by Angela Smithson, MD, this study is the first step in an ambitious care system redesign aimed to address the social determinants of health within the healthcare system. In this phase, community-based participatory research will be applied to understand the community assets and partners whose integration is necessary in the health care team. Goals include identifying key stakeholders, assessing faculty and resident knowledge and attitudes of community partners, and discerning patient attitudes toward discussing social determinants of health and community resources within the healthcare environment.


Use of Thirty-Minute Office Blood Pressure Monitoring to Improve Blood Pressure Compliance for Minnesota Community Measures

Thirty-Minute Office Blood Pressure Monitoring (OBP-30) involves taking multiple readings of  a patient’s blood pressure for thirty minutes to paint a more accurate picture than the typical single reading. A new study, led by Ann Philbrick, PharmD, will determine whether using OBP-30 significantly impacts the percentage of patients achieving Minnesota Community Measurement (MNCM) blood pressure goals for vascular disease and diabetes. For those remaining above goal, pharmacist interventions will be implemented and then evaluated for effectiveness.

Food Rx

This project, led by Erin Westfall, DO, partners with businesses and local organizations to deliver weekly food boxes and nutrition education to patients with chronic preventable disease. This pilot program will identify successes and challenges to implementing a “food as medicine” program in a family physician practice.


Patient experience in family medicine residency chronic pain program

This study, led by St. John's faculty Kathryn Brown, MD, MS, and North Memorial faculty Jason Ricco, MD, MPH, will evaluate the patient experience in the newly implemented chronic pain process for the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. Patient questionnaires and focus group discussions will be used to identify factors that promote or discourage a positive patient experience in the management of chronic pain. These results will then be reviewed to identify modifiable aspects of patient care or patient-staff interaction to improve patient satisfaction while still maintaining the original aims of the chronic pain process.

Youth diabetes coaching project

Led by St. John's program director Angela Smithson, MD, MPH, St. John's residents will use the Stanford Diabetes Youth Coaches Program Curriculum to work with students at Johnson High School in St. Paul to address the growing problem of diabetes and its complications within an underserved and culturally diverse population. This program aims to engage and educate the community through a sustainable activity as well as assist residents to meet their educational goals in community involvement and population health.

Ultrasound-guided hip injections using hip simulation

The Discovery Fund will continue to support a project led by sports medicine faculty Jennifer Oberstar, MD, to develop a virtual environment for family medicine residents to further hone their skills in ultrasound-guided hip injections. The use of ultrasound equipment is quickly becoming an essential skill for residents to master as a diagnostic tool in the primary care office.


Continuous glucose management (CGM)

Jean Moon, PharmD, and Katherine Montag Schafer, PharmD, were interested in evaluating the use of continuous glucose management (CGM) devices for diabetes patients at Phalen Village and Broadway family medicine clinics. As CGM technology is not limited to specialists, it's a particularly useful tool for family physicians to provide chronic disease management in a primary care environment. Support from our Discovery Fund helped them to evaluate patient and provider satisfaction, track patient outcomes, and determine the return on investment for CGM technology in a family medicine clinic.

Ultrasound-guided hip injections using hip simulation

Although the use of ultrasound equipment was quickly becoming an essential skill for family physicians to master, Jennifer Oberstar, MD, noted that there were few organized curricula available to teach residents the performance of ultrasound-guided hip injections. Our Discovery Fund provided essential support for her to develop a virtual environment for family medicine resident to further hone their skills in ultrasound-guided hip injections.