Department of Medicine Wheels Up Early Physician Scientist Career Development Program

Wheels Up! Landing Page

Program Description

The Wheels Up Program is designed to identify promising early physician scientists, and to support them in their transition from clinical training to independence. The program is structured around three pillars:

  1. Adequate protected time for research.
  2. Salary support in line with an Assistant Professor in the awardee’s specialty.
  3. Mentorship (Peer, Scientific, and Professional)

The Wheels Up program will help support candidates within the DoM who are working towards their first R21/01 (or equivalent) award. The ideal candidates could be one of the following:

  • Have one to two years of post‐clinical training.
  • Have a career development award.
  • Be a faculty member who will be applying for their first R21/01 or similar award.

Each Division Head within the Department of Medicine is eligible to nominate one faculty candidate to be considered for the program per funding cycle. Candidates are expected to be in the program for a minimum of one year.

Each awardee will develop an individual mentoring committee, and will be required to participate in DOM sponsored activities such as a research conferences, meetings, and early investigator workshops as they become available.

For more information about the Wheels Up Program please refer to the programs information flyer (PDF link). To request application materials please contact Amber Roberts (

Program Contacts

David Lewinsohn, MD

DoM Vice Chair of Research


Amber Roberts

DoM Research Development Manager


Current Wheels Up Awardees


Marcia Freidman

Marcia A. Friedman, M.D.

Director, OHSU Vasculitis Center

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Division of Arthritis & Rheumatic Disease

Research Summary:

Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is the most common form of vasculitis in adults over age 50. Left untreated, this disease can lead to permanent vision loss, strokes, and death. Treating GCA requires years of high-dose corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive agents, which have serious side effects in older adults. However, despite the risks of a missed diagnosis and the toxicity of treatment, current diagnostic tests for GCA are notoriously insensitive or nonspecific.

Endothelial cells (ECs) are highly immunologically active cells, which line the blood vessel wall and regulate transmigration of circulating leukocytes. Together with her mentors in rheumatology and cardiovascular disease, Dr. Jim Rosenbaum and Dr. Nabil Alkayed, Marcia Friedman is investigating EC signatures in blood and biopsy tissue of patients with GCA. Through this work she seeks to determine whether ECs can serve as a novel biomarker for GCA. Marcia Friedman also serves as the director of the OHSU Vasculitis Center, where she cares for patients with many forms of systemic vasculitis.

Recent Publications:

Friedman MA, Choi D, Planck SR, Rosenbaum JT, Sibley CH. Gene Expression Pathways across Multiple Tissues in Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic Antibody-associated Vasculitis Reveal Core Pathways of Disease Pathology. J Rheumatol. 2019;46(6):609–615. doi:10.3899/jrheum.180455

Ortega-Loayza AG, Friedman MA, Greiling TM, Cassidy PB, Marzano AV, Gao L, Fei SS, Liu Y, Simpson EL, Rosenbaum JT. Insights into pyoderma gangrenosum: potential use of gene expression profiling for pathogenesis and diagnosis. J Invest Dermatol. 2020. Under review.

Friedman MA, Choi D, Desmarais J, Seifer D, Le B, Ogle K, Harrington CA, Stevens J, Jackson P, Rosenbaum JT. Tofacitinib as a steroid-sparing therapy in pulmonary sarcoidosis: Two prospective cases and molecular analysis. Under review.

Kelly Vranas

Dr. Vranas' long-term goal is to become an independent physician scientist focused on improving the quality, experience, and value of care delivered to patients hospitalized with acute respiratory failure through the study, design, and implementation of innovative care delivery processes. She was previously a fellow at Stanford University's Clinical Excellence Research Center  (CERC), the first university-based research center dedicated to the discovery of scalable methods of high-quality healthcare delivery that decrease population-wide health spending. While at CERC, she studied the main cost drivers in critical care, interacted with industry leaders across multiple healthcare systems, and traveled in the United States and abroad to observe innovations in critical care delivery systems. She also gained exposure to positive-deviance research methods and Human Centered Design Thinking, a systematic approach used to develop innovative, feasible solutions to problems within the context and constraints of particular situations. 

These experiences have been foundational in Dr. Vranas' career as a physician scientist and critical care health services researcher. As a K12 scholar, Dr. Vranas used a machine learning  approach to identify subgroups of ICU patients with similar clinical trajectories in order to tailor care delivery platforms around their shared needs. She then performed a study that identified ICU-level factors associated with improved outcomes among ICU patients at low risk of dying, who represent an important target in efforts to improve the overall value of ICU care. Most recently, she completed a study evaluating the association of Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment with healthcare resource utilization among patients presenting to the emergency department. 

Most recently, Dr. Vranas was awarded a VA career development award that will use a positive-deviance approach and Human-Centered Design Thinking to examine organizational factors and care processes associated with ICU admitting practices and outcomes among patients presenting to the emergency department with acute respiratory failure who do not require life support. Through this research, she hopes to generate new knowledge that will inform future clinical trials of triage strategies for patients with acute respiratory failure that are sensitive to hospital-specific environments and tailored to different risk groups. Results of this work will also guide hospital administrators and policy makers in decisions about how to best use critical care services and other valuable hospital resources in the context of their local environment. 

Recent publications:

  1. Vranas KC, Jopling J, Sweeney T, Ramsey M, Milstein A, Slatore CG, Escobar G, Liu V. Identifying distinct subgroups of intensive care unit patients: a machine learning approach. Crit Care Med 2017 Oct;45(10):1607-1615.
  2. Vranas KC, Jopling J, Scott JY, Badawi O, Harhay MO, Ramsey MC, Slatore CG, Breslow M, Milstein AS, Kerlin MP. The Association of ICU Acuity with Outcomes of ICU Patients at Low Risk of Dying. Crit Care Med 2018 Mar;46(3):347-353.
  3. Vranas KC, Lin A, Zive D, Tolle S, Halpern SD, Slatore CG, Newgard C, Lee R, Kross E, Sullivan DR. The Association of POLST with Intensity of Treatment Among Patients Presenting to the Emergency Department. Ann Emerg Med 2019 Jun 24 [Epub ahead of print].
  4. Vranas KC, Ouyang D, Lin AL, Slatore CG, Sullivan DR, Kerlin MP, Liu KD, Baron RM, Calfee CS, Ware LB, Halpern SD, Matthay MA, Herridge M, Mehta S, Rogers AJ. Gender Differences in Authorship of Critical Care Literature. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2020 Jan 22. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201910-1957OC. [Epub ahead of print]
  5. Lee RY, Brumback LB, Sathitratanacheewin S, Lober WB, Modes ME, Lynch YT, Sibley J, Vranas KC, Sullivan DR, Engelberg RA, Curtis JR, Kross EK. POLST-Discordant Intensive Care Near the End of Life: A Retrospective Cohort Study. JAMA 2020 (in press).
  6. Vranas KC, Scott JY, Badawi O, Harhay MO, Slatore CG, Sullivan DR, Kerlin MP. The Association of ICU Acuity with Adherence to Evidence-Based Practices. Chest 2020. (in press)


Brian Chan

Dr. Brian Chan is an assistant professor of medicine at OHSU Department of Medicine, division of general internal medicine and geriatrics and addiction medicine section. His primary research interest is to develop and evaluate clinical innovations to improve care for medically and socially complex patients, including those with substance use disorders. He conducts community partnered research with Central City Concern, a nationally recognized healthcare for the homeless Federally Qualified Health Center, and employs clinical trial, observational, and qualitative research methods. He is currently the recipient of an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Patient Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) K12 award to evaluate a novel integrated primary care model (SUMMIT) to improve outcomes for medically and socially complex patient populations with substance use disorder. His career goal is to develop methods for using readily available data to inform targeting and development of clinical interventions to improve substance use care for complex patients, and has submitted a career development award to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support his transition to research independence.

Selected publications:

  1. Chan B, Edwards ST, Nicolaidis C, Kansagara D, Korthuis T, Saha S. The SUMMIT Ambulatory-ICU Primary Care Model for Medically and Socially Complex Patients in an Urban Federally Qualified Health Center: Study Design and Rationale. Addiction Science and Clinical Practice: 2018 Dec. 2018 Dec; 13(1):27 PMCID: PMC6295087
  2. Chan B, Hulen E, Edwards ST, Mitchell M, Nicolaidis C, Saha S. “It’s Like Riding Out the Chaos”: Perspectives of Clinicians and Staff on Caring for High-Needs, High-Cost Patients in the SUMMIT Ambulatory Intensive Care Trial. Annals of Family Medicine: 2019 Nov; 17(6):495-501 PMCID: PMC6846277
  3. Chan B, Goldman L, Sarkar U, Guzman D, Critchfield J, Saha S, Kushel M. High perceived social support protects against 30-day hospital readmission in a multi-ethnic, limited english proficiency, safety-net population. BMC Health Services Research: 2019 May; 19(1): 334. PMCID:  6534878
  4. Chan B, Kondo K, Ayers C, Freeman M, Montgomery J, Paynter R, and Kansagara D. Pharmacotherapy for methamphetamine/amphetamine use disorder- a systematic review and meta-analysis. Addiction: 2019 Jul 22 [Epub ahead of print]. PMID:31328345