Dr. Cecilia Canales selected for National Academy of Medicine Scholars in Diagnostic Excellence program

Dr. Cecilia Canales
Dr. Cecilia Canales

Cecilia Canales, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of anesthesiology & perioperative medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine has been selected for the 2023-2024 National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Scholars in Diagnostic Excellence program in collaboration with the Council of Medical Specialty Societies. Dr. Canales was chosen through a national competition based on her professional qualifications and accomplishments, demonstrated leadership in the field, and potential to advance diagnostic excellence and equity. She was also chosen based on the quality and feasibility of her program proposal submission: “Advancing Language Equity in Diagnosing Perioperative Neurocognitive Disorders.”

Funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, with additional support from The John A. Hartford Foundation (JAHF), the program is designed to develop a cadre of leaders who can drive implementation of effective strategies to raise awareness of diagnosis in medicine, support diagnostic excellence, and reduce diagnostic errors at the national level. Up to 11 scholars participate in the one-year, part-time remote experience to enhance their knowledge and skills in diagnostic quality, safety, and equity and accelerate their career development in becoming national leaders in the field. The program includes monthly educational sessions, mentorship, a $35,000 grant, and an additional $5,000 domestic travel funds.

Dr. Canales is the JAHF-supported NAM Scholar with a focus on advancing diagnostic excellence and equity for older adults. Her research focus is patient-oriented outcomes research in aging surgical patients. She has developed and implemented a diagnostic accuracy study to identify if Point-of-Care ultrasound measurements can be used to discriminate between frail and not frail patients to predict postoperative outcomes. She is also focused on studying factors that contribute to postoperative neurocognitive disorders (PND). Dr. Canales is a National Institute of Aging-Butler-Williams Scholar, and is particularly interested in studying PND in minority elders. Limited English proficient patients are excluded from PND studies since language can influence neurocognitive tests. Dr. Canales’s work aims to bridge this gap to better understand the needs and treatment strategies.

“There is an unmet need to provide evidence-based anesthesia to our aging surgical patients, especially those with vulnerable brains such as patients with pre-existing mild cognitive impairment or dementia, a growing proportion of whom are limited English proficient,” said Dr. Canales. “By improving diagnostic excellence for perioperative neurocognitive disorders in older adults, including those with limited English proficiency, we have the potential to improve perioperative health outcomes. I’m excited to begin working on such an important topic.”

Gregg S. Margolis, Ph.D., director of Health Policy Fellowships and Leadership Programs at the NAM stated: “We commend you on being selected after a very rigorous and highly competitive selection process, and we are very excited to welcome you into this new cohort.”

Read more about the 2023 NAM Scholars in Diagnostic Excellence on the National Academy of Medicine website.