Acting Chief Research and Development Officer
David Atkins, M.D., M.P.H., has been named acting chief research and development officer for VA, effective April 1, 2016. Atkins will oversee VA's nationwide research enterprise, encompassing more than 2,000 active projects at more than 100 sites, with a total 2016 budget—including VA and non-VA support—of $1.8 billion.
Most recently, Atkins had been director of VA Health Services Research and Development. In that role, he has led an innovative transformation focused on collaborative research through the CREATE (Collaborative Research to Enhance and Advance Transformation and Excellence) initiative and Centers of Innovation (COINs). CREATEs are groups of coordinated research projects conducted in close collaboration, from their inception, with VA clinical and operational partners. They address high-priority issues for Veterans and the VA health care system, such as evidence-based therapies for PTSD, improving quality and safety through PACTs, long-term care, pain management and patient-aligned care, promoting value and access in substance use disorder services, and women Veterans' healthcare. COINs are the new evolution of HSR&D centers of excellence. Like CREATEs, they emphasize collaborative research.
Atkins previously directed VA's Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI), which helps translate research findings into everyday clinical practice.
Prior to his VA career, Atkins spent more than a decade at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). In his last role at AHRQ, he was the chief medical officer at the Center for Outcomes and Evidence, where he oversaw the scientific activities of AHRQ's Effective Healthcare Program and research on improving care of chronic disease. Prior to that, he was the coordinator for clinical preventive services at AHRQ's Center for Practice Technology Assessment.
Board certified in internal medicine, Atkins also has a Master of Public Health in epidemiology. Prior to joining AHRQ, he conducted epidemiologic research on cardiovascular disease prevention and saw patients as a primary care provider.
In addition to several faculty appointments, Atkins has served on national committees that include the Armed Forces Epidemiology Board, the American College of Preventive Medicine's Practice Guidelines Committee, and the American Cancer Society's Detection and Treatment Advisory Group. He is also a member of the editorial board for the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and he has authored nearly 40 articles and book chapters and given more than 50 presentations on topics such as cancer screening in primary care, assessment of health promotion and disease prevention, and the science of practice guidelines.