CATALYST partners with Palliative Medicine experts to advance research at Ohio State

By Tyler Griesenbrock
CATALYST scientific editor

As its name suggests, CATALYST – the Center for the Advancement of Team Science, Analytics, and Systems Thinking in Health Services and Implementation Science Research – holds as its mission to catalyze research efforts at The Ohio State University.

That mission has been put into action once again through a partnership with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center's Division of Palliative Medicine to support the full cycle of research: idea generation, proposal development, grant submission, Institutional Review Board navigation, data collection, data analysis and interpretation, and dissemination of results.

“We help break down any barriers. We make connections to other people or resources,” said Laura Rush, DVM, PhD, the Director of the Learning Health System Core at CATALYST. “We also use some of that time for teaching and mentoring.”

According to the Division of Palliative Medicine, its team’s care focuses on improving the quality of life for patients and their loved ones through the prevention and relief of suffering – whether physical, psychosocial, or spiritual – in the face of life-threatening illness.

Palliative care is about “making sure that patients can articulate the goals of the care they wish to receive and helping physicians understand patients’ goals and desires of their care,” Dr. Rush said. “Many people equate palliative care with hospice, but palliative care isn’t inherently connected to fatal diseases. Many people live long lives with palliative care.”

Among the projects on which CATALYST and the palliative medicine team have been coordinating are a series of manuscripts, based on work with Todd Barrett, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Palliative Medicine, related to starting and operating an embedded cardiac palliative care clinic.

“We have worked with Dr. Barrett on preparation and submission of several manuscripts,” Dr. Rush said, adding that CATALYST has been “helping with data collection, data analysis, qualitative interviews, and grant submissions.”

Other areas of palliative care have also received attention; for example, CATALYST team members have been working with Sachin Kale, MD, to gather data related to how people are helped by the harm reduction palliative care clinic he has established to work with people who have substance use disorder and who also need pain control.

“We’ve also done a lot of work with Dr. Brittany Waterman, including working with her on her project called Healing Stanzas.” Dr. Rush said. “It’s working with health care providers and using poetry and the writing process to help them with their wellbeing.”

The overarching goal of all these efforts is to both construct a robust system through which CATALYST can help the division meet its research goals as well as generate support for researchers across the College of Medicine. That support is not just financial – it also means opportunities for faculty members to develop as independent researchers and for post-doctoral scholars to learn additional skills as they work with new data and contribute to new papers.

All of that encourages growth at CATALYST and the Division of Palliative Medicine as more people come up with “very promising” research ideas, according to Dr. Rush.

Additional CATALYST team members involved in the effort include Post-doctoral Researchers Karen Shiu-Yee, PhD, MPH, and Gennaro Di Tosto, PhD; Research Specialists Leanna Perez Eiterman, PhD, CCRP, and Lindsey Sova, MPH; and CATALYST Executive Director, Ann McAlearney, ScD, MS.

For more information about CATALYST, visit For more information about the Division of Palliative Care, visit