This article originally appeared in Pulse.
Amit Acharya B.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., a renowned research scientist, has been named executive director of Marshfield Clinic Research Institute (MCRI).
He is the founding director of the Center for Oral and Systemic Health (formerly known as Institute for Oral and Systemic Health) and currently Chief Dental Informatics Officer for Family Health Center of Marshfield, Inc. (FHC), and dental practice at Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS).
As leader of the Institute, Dr. Acharya will play an integral role in driving the commitment and mission of the Institute, which consists of research centers in clinical research, agricultural health and safety, epidemiology, human genetics, biomedical informatics and integrated laboratory services, and approximately 450 clinical trials and other research projects are active at any one time.
Dr. Acharya has been a leading researcher at MCRI the past eight years and is well-regarded throughout the U.S. on his expertise with dental informatics. He conducts original research aimed at developing, implementing and evaluating clinical information systems in biomedical and dental informatics and the oral-systemic relationship between periodontal and systemic disease like diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
“Dr. Acharya is not only passionate about health science research but has demonstrated an uncanny ability to integrate and leverage the essential components of the Health System in founding the Institute for Oral and Systemic Health, one of its kind in the nation,” said Marshfield Clinic Executive Director Narayana Murali, M.D. “He has dedicated time to understand and apply informational science across all aspects of health care creating a dental informatics center of national and international repute. In creating a collaborative hub of education, research, health plan, clinical care delivery and health informatics he has touched our communities to advance their oral-systemic health while bringing our institution national repute.”
“Dr. Acharya is humble, listens intently to the thoughts of his peers and is the perfect fit to lead our scientists and clinical researchers as we continue to work on meaningful translational work that improves quality of life for our patients, and patients around the world.”
In addition to his outstanding research, Dr. Acharya has played an active role in securing over $5 million in extramural funding to conduct independent research in oral health informatics, oral-systemic and dental-craniofacial research. He also was instrumental in helping FHC secure nearly $1.8 million of Electronic Health Record Meaningful Use incentive payments for its dental practice.
Dr. Acharya has published scientific abstracts and manuscripts in over 100 national and international peer-reviewed journals and edited a book titled “Integration of Medical and Dental Care and Patient Data.” He is frequently requested to speak at national and international conferences.
“Marshfield Clinic has a long history of conducting outstanding research thanks to visionaries like Dr. Dean Emanuel and Fritz Wenzel,” said MCHS CEO Susan Turney, M.D. “It’s work like what Dr. Acharya is doing that not only improves quality of life for our patients, but puts Marshfield Clinic on the map as a leading research institution in the country.”
Dr. Acharya has held several national leadership roles including secretary, chair-elect and chair of the American Dental Education Association’s Dental Informatics Section; co-chair elect and co-chair, American Medical Informatics Association’s Dental Informatics Work Group. He also currently serves as the chairman of the clinical informatics sub-committee of the American Dental Associations’ (ADA) Standards Committee for Dental Informatics and is the ADA representative to the Health Level Seven (HL7). Dr. Acharya also serves as a member on the advisory board of the National Center for Community Health Research and ADA Dental Quality Alliance’s Implementation and Evaluation Committee. He has served on national HIT expert panels coordinated by entities like Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology and National Quality Forum (NQF).
He completed his bachelor of dental surgery degree from Bangalore University, India, and practiced clinical dentistry as a house surgeon and a dental officer for several years. He later completed a master’s degree in computer science from Western Kentucky University; a doctorate in biomedical informatics from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; and pursued a program in leadership strategies for information technology in health care from Harvard School of Public Health, Boston.
“I am excited about the new challenges this role brings and opportunities to continue integration of research and the clinical care delivery within our health system,” said Dr. Acharya. “I look forward to better integrating our research enterprise to function as part of the Learning Health System there by creating value for not only the patients and communities that we serve but also the passionate people who work within our health system to deliver high quality care.”
Dr. Acharya takes over for longtime Marshfield Clinic Executive Director Frederick “Fritz” Wenzel, who has served as the interim MCRI executive director.
“When he could have been enjoying retirement, Fritz stepped forward to lead MCRI once again during a time of transition,” Dr. Murali said. “Fritz is an icon at Marshfield Clinic and helped set the standard of excellence for which we strive. Thank you Fritz for all that you have done.”