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The Comparative Health Outcomes, Policy, and Economics (CHOICE) Institute

WRF Fellowships

Fellowship Overview

The Washington Research Foundation (WRF) operates at the intersection of academic research, technology development, public and private investment, philanthropy and industry. They have a strong track record of supporting innovation in the life sciences and engineering, from early research to commercialization. The WRF works with nonprofit research institutes to support a cycle of innovation that helps de-risk promising technologies while still in the institution and then invests early to support new companies spinning out from those same organizations.

Health economics and outcomes research (HEOR) is increasingly being used at earlier stages of product development for healthcare and life sciences to inform decision making. While this expertise is commonly available at larger companies it may be unaffordable to smaller companies or academic researchers that have arguably the greatest need for that kind of service. The WRF-HEOR Fellowship aims to address this gap by providing high quality health economic and outcomes research services to WRF mission-related companies coming from qualified institutions in Washington state while also providing a valuable training activity for graduate students at Washington state research institutions.

Fellows and research assistants are paired with a Principal Investigator who is developing a novel technology in this early phase and are tasked with building an analytic framework to predict the potential value of the technology and to guide further development toward commercialization. The typical project takes about a year to complete and involves building a cost-effectiveness model, producing detailed results and projections, presenting findings to the PI and the WRF team, and preparing a final report. Fellows are also encouraged to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals.

Fellows & Projects 

Current Research assistants

Zizi Elsisi, BPharm, MS

  • PhD student at the CHOICE Institute

Current Fellows

Jacinda Tran, MBA, PharmD

  • PhD student at the CHOICE Institute

Daniel Chukri

  • Doctor of Pharmacy student at the UW school of Pharmacy
  • PharmD PGY1 Pharmacy Resident at VMFH St. Joseph Medical Center

Fellowship Alumni

Boshen Jiao, MPH, PhD

  • Boshen has received his doctoral degree at the CHOICE institute. Dr. Jiao worked with the Fred Hutch by conducting an economic analysis of a novel point-of-care test for bacterial vaginosis among women of reproductive age with vaginal discharge symptoms.

Samantha Clark, MS

  • PhD candidate at the CHOICE Institute.
  • Samantha worked with Dr. Nitin Baliga from the institute for Systems Biology. Her work involved developing a decision-analytic framework to provide a proof of concept for the use of a new tool that utilizes integrated multiomics and clinical patient data to prioritize drug combinations rather than a “trial based” approach in Glioblastoma.

Scott Spencer, MS, MPA, PhD

  • Scott Spencer received his doctoral degree at the UW Institute for Public Health Genetics. He worked with Dr. Erik Wambre and his team at the Benaroya Institute, who were able to identify a novel type of cell in allergy pathogenesis. Utilizing this discovery, Dr. Wambre and his team have worked to develop a novel diagnostic to identify cells that are reactive to allergens such as peanuts. This technology can identify individuals who are allergic to peanuts and eliminate the need for other potentially dangerous and costly diagnostics such as the Oral Food Challenge. The WRF peanut allergy project evaluated the cost effectiveness of various value-based prices and sensitivity/specificity thresholds for this new diagnostic for children with unknown peanut allergies. Future work utilizing this diagnostic may also involve Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) that can increase individual’s tolerance for peanut ingestion, improve their quality of life, and decreased the severity and frequency of allergic reactions.

Shuxian Chen, MA, PhD

  • Shuxian has finished her doctoral degree at the CHOICE Institute. She conducted a systematic review and developed a decision-analystic model to evaluate the cost-effectiveness analysis of current and future testosterone replacement therapy for treatment of hypogonadism. This work was in collaboration with Dr. Bhagwat Prasad from the department of Pharmaceutics at the University of Washington.

Tori Dayer, PharmD

  • PhD student at the CHOICE Institute
  • Tori worked with Professor Eric Seibel to evaluate the potential value of Rapid Onsite Evaluation (ROSE), a technique used to determine the adequacy of tissue biopsy samples obtained prior to imaging and subsequent analysis for diagnostic purposes. Using a Markov model, this project sought to determine the cost-effectiveness of a ROSE technology in varying tissue types compared to usual care. In addition, we identified whether the use of ROSE technology may be more appropriate for biopsies in certain tissue types compared to others based on the typical adequacy rates and costs associated with each.

Tricia Rodriguez, MPH, PhD

  • Tricia finished her doctoral degree at the CHOICE Institute. She worked with Dr. Tom Matula from the Applied Physics Laboratory on an non-invasive alternative treatment for abscess that uses high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to kill bacteria in situ. The technology can result in shorter outpatient visits with less pain and discomfort for patients.

Naomi Schwartz, MS, PhD 

  • Naomi finished her PhD program at the CHOICE Institute. She worked with Professor Stephanie Berger at the UW Institute for Protein Design. Her project was a decision-analytic model designed to provide insight into the potential cost-effectiveness of a novel oral cyclic peptide treatment for Crohn’s Disease.

Lauren Strand, MS, PhD

  • Lauren received her doctoral degree at the CHOICE Institute. She had previous experience in cost-effectiveness modeling, policy analysis, and consulting. For her WRF Fellowship, she completed an early phase technology assessment for the Institute for Protein Design at the UW. Her work consisted of a discrete event simulation to estimate costs and outcomes of currently available therapies in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a rare and costly form of lung disease. She also estimated the value of a potential new therapeutic in this disease area. She presented this work at the 2020 American Thoracic Society Annual Meeting.

Kangho Suh, PharmD, PhD

  • Assistant Professor University of Pittsburgh
  • Dr. Suh’s project involved estimating the potential cost-effectiveness of a hypothetical curative hepatitis B immunotherapy, similar to the recent breakthrough therapies seen in hepatitis C. He built a lifetime Markov cohort simulation model where patients cycled through a simulated disease progression of chronic hepatitis B. He also conducted threshold analyses to determine possible prices for the immunotherapy by varying willingness-to-pay and treatment effectiveness. The Technology Developers who he worked with were Edward Clark from the University of Washington and Craig Philips from Kineta, Inc.

Application Information

We will be accepting applications for research assistant positions in June 2023. Check back for information on how to apply.

Contact Information

Ryan Hansen, PharmD, PhD
University of Washington Fellowship Director,

Marina Gano, M.Ed.
University of Washington Graduate Program & Operations Manager,

William Canestaro, MS, PhD
Washington Research Foundation