Where Are They Now? Catching Up With Past Winners of AJMC’s Seema S. Sonnad Emerging Leader in Managed Care Research Award

After winning our Seema S. Sonnad Emerging Leader in Managed Care Research Award, these researchers have gone on to make substantial impacts in the field of managed care and mentor the next generation of investigators.

A Look Back at Past Winners

The American Journal of Managed Care® (AJMC®) established the Seema S. Sonnad Emerging Leader in Managed Care Research Award in 2015 to recognize an individual whose early achievements in managed care demonstrate the potential for making an exceptional long-term contribution as a leader in the field. AJMC dedicated this award in honor of the journal’s late associate editor Seema S. Sonnad, PhD, to commemorate her exemplary leadership and the valuable mentoring she provided to her fellows and trainees.

After winning the award early in their careers, our talented past winners have gone on to make substantial impacts in the field of managed care research and mentor the next generation of investigators. Here, we look back at these winners and their achievements since receipt of the award.

2015: Julia Adler-Milstein, PhD

The first winner of the award was Julia Adler-Milstein, PhD, now a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where she’s also director of the Center for Clinical Informatics and Improvement Research. She continues her impressive output of timely research in journals including AJMC, most recently in the 2022 Health Information Technology (IT) Special Issue, when she coauthored the study “Assessment of Structured Data Elements for Social Risk Factors.” Her expertise in the health IT field has made her a valuable author and peer reviewer of articles featured in these annual special issues.

2016: Zirui Song, MD, PhD

In 2016, the award winner was Zirui Song, MD, PhD, now an associate professor of health care policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School and general internist at Massachusetts General Hospital. He serves as an associate editor and editorial board member of several journals, and his influential research focuses on ideas for improving the value of health care spending. In the April 2022 issue of AJMC, he coauthored the study “Changes in Use of Low-Value Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” He received Harvard Medical School’s Young Mentor Award in 2022, which aligns with Dr Sonnad’s passion for training the next generation of researchers.

2017: Ilana Graetz, PhD

The winner of the award in 2017 was Ilana Graetz, PhD, who is now an associate professor of health policy and management at Emory University. Her research on the use of health IT to improve patient outcomes has been published in journals including AJMC, where most recently she was a coauthor on the study “Primary Care Video and Telephone Telemedicine During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Treatment and Follow-up Health Care Utilization,” published in the 2023 Health IT Special Issue. She was also the guest editor of our 2020 Health IT Special Issue. Additionally, much of her work reflects her interest in reducing health disparities and improving health outcomes for vulnerable patients.

2018: Erin Trish, PhD

In 2018, the award winner was Erin Trish, PhD, who is now an associate professor of pharmaceutical and health economics at the University of Southern California and codirector of the USC Schaeffer Center. She is a frequent coauthor of articles published in AJMC—most recently, “Part D Beneficiaries’ Incentives and Responses Under Preferred Pharmacy Networks” in the April 2023 issue—and in 2021 joined the AJMC editorial board. Her expertise on the intersection of public policy and health care markets makes her an important contributor to the editorial mission of the journal.

2019: Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD

The winner of the award in 2019 was Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD, now an associate professor in the division of clinical pharmacy at the University of California San Diego. She also joined the editorial board of AJMC in 2021 and has coauthored numerous articles published in the journal and on AJMC.com, most recently “Number of Manufacturers and Generic Drug Pricing From 2005 to 2017.” Her work on the forefront of drug pricing research has been featured in several media outlets, and in 2022 she became a National Academy of Medicine Fellow in Pharmacy.

2020: Renuka Tipirneni, MD, MSc

In 2020, the award winner was Renuka Tipirneni, MD, MSc, currently an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School. Her research on the impact of health policy on vulnerable populations includes the AJMC-published study “Factors Influencing Primary Care Providers’ Decisions to Accept New Medicaid Patients Under Michigan’s Medicaid Expansion.” She is also involved in several projects evaluating the real-world effects of coverage expansions and other initiatives to expand care access, and she’s a codirector of the National Clinician Scholars Program at the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation.

2021: Christopher M. Whaley, PhD

In 2021, the award went to Christopher M. Whaley, PhD, currently a health economist at the RAND Corporation and professor at the RAND Pardee Graduate School. He has coauthored several studies published in AJMC and elsewhere, including “Differences in Telehealth During COVID-19 Between Commercial and Medicaid Enrollees” in AJMC’s 2023 Health IT Special Issue. He also joined us for an interview on Managed Care Cast to discuss the study and its findings, which reflect his research interests in health care utilization and insurance benefit design. In addition to journal articles, he’s authored numerous working papers and peer-reviewed policy reports.

2022: Ishani Ganguli, MD, MPH

Our most recent winner is Ishani Ganguli, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and primary care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In addition to her numerous scholarly articles—including “Differences in the Use of Telephone and Video Telemedicine Visits During the COVID-19 Pandemic” in AJMC’s 2021 Health IT Special Issue—the award committee was impressed by her efforts to disseminate her research into the public sphere through her journalism. Her broad research interests include primary care delivery, gender equity, and low-value care, and like Dr Sonnad, she is also passionate about mentoring female students.

If you know someone who would be a good fit on this roster of winners, or if you wish to nominate yourself, please review the requirements here and submit a nomination for the 2023 Seema S. Sonnad Emerging Leader in Managed Care Research Award here.

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