CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - For leading a study that was the first to define appropriate bone density screening intervals for older women, Margaret Gourlay, MD, MPH, of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine has been honored with a Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Award from the Clinical Research Forum.
The winning projects are compelling examples of the scientific innovation that results from the nation's investment in clinical research that can benefit human health and welfare.
Gourlay's study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in January 2012, calculated time estimates that doctors can use for bone density screening in primary care practice, based on a woman's first bone density T-score at age 65 or older. The study found that when women had good T-scores on their first test, it took about 15 years for 10 percent of them to develop osteoporosis. But women with lower T-scores on their first test developed osteoporosis sooner -- it took about 1 to 5 years for 10 percent of them to develop osteoporosis.
"Dr. Gourlay's study has proven to be very influential in the field of bone and mineral research, and it has the potential to change the way doctors order bone density tests," said Eugene P. Orringer, MD, a professor of medicine at UNC who nominated Gourlay for this award.
"The results should help doctors target the bone density screening so that they test patients with lower T-scores and thinner bones more frequently. The results also mean that older women with very good bone density on their first test don't need tests to be performed nearly as often as was originally thought," Orringer said.
"These achievements are beacons of hope that show what can be accomplished when our nation's researchers are given the freedom and resources to tackle tough clinical problems," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD. "The opportunities for advancing clinical research have never been better. So, we at NIH look forward to doing everything we can to light up more of these beacons for the millions who look to us for help."
Gourlay, an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine in the UNC School of Medicine and an adjunct assistant professor in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the other winners were honored April 18 during the Clinical Research Forum annual meeting and awards dinner in Washington, D.C.
The Clinical Research Forum is an organization comprised of the nation's most prestigious and acclaimed academic medical centers and healthcare systems whose goal is to sustain and expand a cadre of talented, well-trained clinical investigators at all stage of career development, and support nurturing environments and comprehensive research capabilities within academic institutions. Its mission is to provide leadership to the national clinical and translational research enterprise and promote understanding and support for clinical research and its impact on health.