Daniel K. Nishijima
At a Glance
• Assistant professor of emergency medicine
• Joined the UC Davis faculty in 2008
• Completed CTSC Mentored Clinical Research Training Program
in conjunction with emergency medicine research fellowship
• In final year of CTSC K12 Mentored Career Development
• Research interest: traumatic brain injury
• Research mentors: James Holmes, professor of emergency
medicine, and Joy Melnikow, professor of family and community
What or who inspired you to seek a career in medicine and research?
Having my research translated to real-world clinical practice that improves patient care is the most rewarding aspect of conducting research. I am also particularly excited about conducting emergency care research which, while challenging, is broad and involves working with a diverse group of collaborators.
I credit my decision to pursue and continue a career in research to a strong mentorship foundation, from people both inside and outside of UC Davis. They have provided guidance not only on research methodology but also on career and life. In addition, our department is fantastic; our faculty is always so willing to provide insights and perspective to my research.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
One thing that has inspired me to conduct research is that it is very hard! To conduct impactful and methodologically sound research requires a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Above all, as our department chair Nate Kuppermann preaches, research requires persistence. The challenges and difficulties of doing research are very exciting. I enjoy pushing myself to acquire new skills and methodology, and to generate solutions to complicated problems. The beautiful thing is that these challenges never seem to disappear during your career; they evolve and present themselves in new and unique ways.
What’s important about your research and where do you hope to take it?
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant public health concern in this country, responsible for 1.4 million emergency room visits, 52,000 deaths, and $60 billion of expenditure every year, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate. My research interest in TBI revolves around two foci: evaluating resource utilization in the management of TBI patients, and investigating TBI in patients who previously were on anticoagulants (blood thinners).
I recently was awarded a three-year cooperative agreement (U01) from the CDC to evaluate older adults with TBI and pre-injury anticoagulation use, involving 11 hospitals and five emergency medical services agencies within Sacramento County. I also am planning a patient-centered, randomized controlled trial evaluating admission strategies for low-risk adult patients with TBI.
How have the MCRTP and K12 programs helped you become a better researcher?
I view these years of mentored clinical research training as a critical phase in my career that allowed me time to focus on my research, develop new skills, establish multidisciplinary collaborations and familiarize myself with UC Davis CTSC resources. These years have also allowed me to be productive. I have completed two multicenter studies, 22 publications and numerous intramural and extramural funded projects. In addition, I recently was awarded the 2013 Society of Academic Emergency Medicine Young Investigator Award. I believe that at the end of my training, I’ll have the confidence to undertake large-scale, multi-center studies that can really benefit patient care.