NEWS | June 9, 2010

UC Davis physician recognized with prestigious awards from two national emergency medicine organizations


Nathan Kuppermann, professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine, has received two national awards for his groundbreaking research to improve the care of acutely ill children.

The Society for Academic Emergency Medicine honored Kuppermann with the prestigious 2010 Excellence in Research Award at its annual meeting on June 5 in Phoenix. Presented to a society member who has made outstanding contributions to emergency medicine over the course of an entire career, the award recognizes Kuppermann’s research contributions, his role as a leader in multicenter research and his long history of collaboration among the nation’s leading pediatric emergency departments to advance pediatric emergency care.

Kuppermann’s studies have focused on the epidemiology of infectious emergencies in children, laboratory and radiographic evaluation of pediatric trauma patients, and pediatric diabetic ketoacidosis and the risk of cerebral edema.

This is Kuppermann’s second national award for outstanding research in less than one month. At ceremonies in Washington, D.C. on May 27, he received a National Heroes Award for research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Emergency Medical Services for Children program. He was honored with the award for his work as principal investigator of a major study published in The Lancet in 2009. In that study, Kuppermann and his colleagues in the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) established and validated a prediction rule for traumatic brain injuries that can guide physicians caring for children with blunt head trauma, resulting in a reduction of unnecessary CT scans and the associated risks of radiation exposure from the scans.

The more recent Excellence in Research Award was presented to Kuppermann for outstanding research he has done over the course of his entire career. In addition to the recent Lancet article, his research has been published in a number of other prominent journals, including Annals of Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics, the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Kuppermann has chaired the American Academy of Pediatrics Pediatric Emergency Medicine Collaborative Research Committee and was the founding chair and remains a principal investigator of the PECARN network, the first federally-funded pediatric emergency research network in the country. Kuppermann oversees a research node within the network which, in addition to UC Davis, consists of the children's hospitals of Philadelphia, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Salt Lake City. 

As a national leader of multicenter research, Kuppermann has led several studies of national and international significance because of their size and scope. For example, he was the senior investigator of a PECARN study of the use of steroid medication to treat pediatric bronchiolitis — a common viral lower respiratory infection in infants. He and his research team found that steroid use did not prevent hospitalization or improve respiratory symptoms, helping settle a long-standing medical controversy and avoiding the exposure of infants to unnecessary steroid usage.

Kuppermann has pointed out that children with medical and traumatic illnesses usually have good outcomes, and that research findings of significance usually require large amounts of data to accurately assess factors that predict both good and bad outcomes.

“By studying large numbers of children, in a variety of settings and from diverse populations,” said Kuppermann, “the results are more likely to be applicable to the general population of children. The PECARN group of emergency departments around the country evaluates approximately 1 million children per year. It is a network that truly enables researchers to make important discoveries and for clinicians to have confidence in their findings.”

Kuppermann holds the Bo Tomas Brofeldt Endowed Chair in the Department of Emergency Medicine. He received his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco, performed his residency at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, Calif., and his fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital, Boston. He also holds a master's degree in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health.

In 2003, Kuppermann was the recipient of the UC Davis School of Medicine Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research and Clinical Mentoring. In 2007, he won the UC Davis award for Outstanding Contributions to Faculty Development and Diversity and has also been a recipient of the Dean’s Excellence in Research Award. Last year, he was awarded the national Miller-Sarkin mentoring award from the Academic Pediatric Association.

The UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation's leading medical schools, recognized for its research and primary-care programs. The school offers fully accredited master's degree programs in public health and in informatics, and its combined M.D.-Ph.D. program is training the next generation of physician-scientists to conduct high-impact research and translate discoveries into better clinical care. Along with being a recognized leader in medical research, the school is committed to serving underserved communities and advancing rural health. For further information, visit the UC Davis School of Medicine website.