By Michael Haederle

UNM College of Population Health Dean Named

Dr. Tracie Collins Brings Extensive Clinical and Research Experience to the Post

Tracie Collins, MD, MPH, MHCDS, a clinician and researcher who studies the racial disparities in the impact of serious vascular disorders, has been named dean of The University of New Mexico College of Population Health.

Collins will assume leadership of UNM's newest college in July, said Paul B. Roth, MD, MS, Chancellor for Health Sciences.

"We are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Collins joining us at UNM," Roth said. "She brings to her new position a long and illustrious record as a researcher, clinical provider and academic leader. Her experience will serve the College well."

Collins, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University of Kansas School of Medicine - Wichita, brings decades of experience to her new role.

She received her bachelor of science in chemistry at the University of Central Oklahoma and earned her MD degree at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. She also completed an internal medicine residency at OU, followed by fellowships in ambulatory care and general internal medicine and a master of public health degree at Harvard. She completed a master of health care delivery science from Dartmouth in February 2018.

Collins joined the faculty at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where she ran studies of patients in the Veterans Affairs health system suffering from peripheral artery disease. The circulatory disorder has become a longstanding research interest.

"We looked at racial disparities in outcomes for patients," she says. "Hispanics and African Americans were more likely to undergo amputations in the VA system, as opposed to non-Hispanic whites." The condition, often associated with diabetes and smoking, leads to narrowing of the arteries in the extremities - which may in turn drive the need for amputation.

Collins continued her research at the University of Minnesota, where she became an associate professor in 2006. She served as a principal investigator for an American Diabetes Association-funded trial to address the role of home-based walking for patients with peripheral arterial disease.

Collins joined the University of Kansas faculty in 2011 as department chair and Kansas Health Foundation Distinguished Professor. UNM's population health college, launched in 2016, is one of three in the nation, she says.

"I would describe population health as the health of the population from the standpoint of understanding their social needs, their genetics and the impact of the health system on their health status," she says. "It's at the intersection of how we deliver care and take those factors into account."

Collins, who hopes to continue providing clinical care in her new role, believes the College of Population Health has an important role to play in improving the health and well-being of New Mexicans.

"I think we have to figure out how do we create a system where we're delivering care and meeting the needs of the patient where they exist," she says. "That includes those upstream factors, the social determinants of health."

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