TRIPPPLe: 'An Alliance of Alliances' to Improve Health Care Practice, Populations, and Policy

In order to maximize the impact of novel research, every research team needs a plan to bring those findings to the clinic and the communities who need health care treatments. A group of clinicians and scientists at the University of Kentucky is working to launch research discoveries beyond the walls of an academic medical center and into broader contexts – clinical practice, population health, and policy development – in order to efficiently promote research into the real world, particularly in underserved areas.

The Translation of Research Interventions into Practice, Populations, and Policy Leadership (TRIPPPLe) Team Alliance focuses on improving the implementation and dissemination of clinical research into changing health care practice and delivery, population health, and how that can influence policy moving forward. The TRIPPPLe Alliance was established through the UK College of Medicine’s Alliance Research Initiative to fill a need for more dissemination and implementation research, which works toward bringing evidence-based practices and policies into real world everyday settings.

“We’re an Alliance that seeks to roll up the shirt sleeves and get to work to help our clinical researchers here at UK move their research forward – into the community, throughout the Commonwealth, and into the broader population,” said co-principal investigator Matthew Bush, MD, PhD, MBA, associate professor in the department of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery and UK College of Medicine Endowed Chair in Rural Health Policy. “Let’s get to the nitty-gritty of what the challenges and struggles are that researchers, especially early-stage researchers, need to overcome to succeed.”

TRIPPPLe is a well-named acronym. In order to improve dissemination and implementation of research into practice, population health, and policy, the team is led by three expert faculty members at the UK College of Medicine who oversee three “cores” that divide work into specific areas of focus: methodology, training, and administrative processes.

The Methodology Research Core, led by Nancy Schoenberg, PhD, professor in the department of behavioral science, supports investigators as they translate their clinical research to be more broadly disseminated or implemented into different settings or populations. The Training Core is led by Hannah Knudsen, PhD, professor in the department of behavioral science, to provide training resources to early-stage and established investigators and help them move clinical research forward using dissemination and implementation methods. The Administrative Core, led by Dr. Bush, acts as the glue among different types of researchers in different areas, promoting better collaboration and communication to facilitate widespread discussion about the challenges and issues related to research and research funding.

Having three co-chairs with different clinical and scientific expertise allows the team to hold specialized roles, fill the gaps, and play into respective strengths for a more effective alliance.

“It's been really cool to see how we've been able to use our own strengths and leadership styles to be able to function well and connect in different ways,” Dr. Bush said. “For example, I'm a people person, and I love talking with these early-stage investigators and learning about their challenges. To have a sense of community and connectedness to other peers is what's really important to me, and I love the opportunity to learn from them, see how we can fix problems, and find mentors to help them move forward.”

Dr. Bush calls his team the “Alliance for Alliance teams” because rather than focusing on one of UK’s research priority areas – cardiovascular disease, cancer, substance use disorders, neuroscience, and obesity and diabetes – the team’s work intertwines with all of them. And this concept could produce numerous benefits for Kentuckians who suffer greatly from these diseases.

A major accomplishment of the TRIPPPLe Alliance has been escalating an interest in dissemination and implementation research through cross-college collaborations among faculty and trainees at different levels. Along with local connections, the team has linked its members to national resources on dissemination and implementation research and has supported the attendance of virtual conferences and training opportunities that put UK researchers in the same room with other experts in the field.

The TRIPPPLe Alliance structure also bridges connections for enhanced grant and proposal writing focused on dissemination and implementation research to turn ideas into productive research activities.

Dr. Bush said the collaborations among TRIPPPLe Alliance team members have garnered an inclusive spirit and a supportive environment in a time when systemic racism and lack of diversity within academic medical centers has been at the forefront.

“We have brought together people that may feel disconnected, isolated, or separated by a lack of appropriate support or mentorship in order to build a sense of community where we can communicate, we can collaborate, and we can innovate together,” he said. “That is critical, and we need more of that spirit of collaboration and inclusiveness in every aspect of our academic medical center.”

To learn more about TRIPPPLe and other Alliance teams, visit www.med.uky.edu/alliance.

TRIPPPLe Alliance Team Members:

  • Adebola Adegboyega, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor -- College of Nursing
  • Ana Bastos de Carvalho, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
  • Avinash Bhakta, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Surgery
  • Ian Boggero, PhD, Assistant Professor – College of Dentistry Matthew Bush, MD, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
  • Juan Canedo, DHSC, MA, Assistant Professor – College of Medicine
  • Mark Evers, MD, Director, Markey Cancer Center – Department of Surgery
  • Hartley Feld, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor – College of Nursing
  • John Fowlkes, MD, Professor – Department of Pediatrics/Endocrinology
  • Justin Fraser, MD , Associate Professor – Department of Neurosurgery
  • Larry Goldstein, MD, Chair and Professor – Department of Neurology
  • Seth Himelhoch, MD, MPH, Chair and Professor – Department of Psychiatry
  • Pamela Hull, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Behavioral Science
  • Julie Jacobs, MPH, Research Project Manager – Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
  • James Keck, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Family and Community Medicine
  • Thomas Kelly, PhD, Professor – Department of Behavioral Science
  • Philip A. Kern, MD, Director, Center for Clinical and Translational Science – Department of Internal Medicine
  • Victoria King, PhD, Associate Professor, –  Department of Internal Medicine
  • Hannah Knudsen, PhD, Professor – Department of Behavioral Science
  • Jill Kolesar, PharmD, Professor – College of Pharmacy
  • Abigail Latimer LCSW, ACHP-SW – College of Social Work
  • Joneen Lowman, PhD, CCC-SLP, Associate Professor – College of Health Sciences
  • Vashisht Madabhushi, MD, Resident – Department of Surgery
  • Katherine Marks, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Behavioral Science
  • Laurie McLouth, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Behavioral Science
  • Mary Beth McGavran, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Psychology
  • Daniela Moga, MD, PhD, Associate Professor – College of Pharmacy
  • Debra Moser, PhD, Professor – College of Nursing
  • Gia Mudd-Martin, PhD, Associate Professor – College of Nursing
  • Sylvia Ofei, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Pediatrics
  • Doug Oyler, PharmD, Assistant Professor – College of Pharmacy
  • Nada Porter, PhD,  Chair, Associate Professor – Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences​
  • Zach Porterfield, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
  • Elizabeth Rhodus, Post-Doc – Sanders-Brown Center on Aging
  • Shyanika Rose, PhD, MA, Assistant Professor – Department of Behavioral Science
  • Nancy Schoenberg, PhD, Regular Faculty – Department of Behavioral Science
  • Brittany Smalls, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Family and Community Medicine
  • Susan Smyth, MD, PhD, Division Chief – Department of Internal Medicine
  • Danelle Stevens-Watkins, PhD, Associate Professor ­– College of Education, Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology
  • Hilary Surratt, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Behavioral Science