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Tufts MC Receives award to study treatment options for teens with high cholesterol


Project Part of PCORI’s Effort to Help Patients Make Better-Informed Health Decisions

BOSTONLaurel K. Leslie, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Tufts Medical Center will receive a research award estimated at nearly $1 million to study comparative effectiveness of lipid screening and treatment strategies for adolescents with high cholesterol from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute. The project is part of a portfolio of patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research that addresses PCORI’s National Priorities for Research and Research Agenda.

Leslie is Director of the Program for Assessing and Implementing Medical and Mental Health Services in Pediatrics (AIMS) at Tufts MC’s Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies and Director of the Program for Aligning Researchers and Communities for Health (ARCH) at Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (Tufts CTSI). She will lead the lipid screenings research project with Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) Sarah D. de Ferranti, MD, MPH, Director of the Preventive Cardiology Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital. 

Leslie and de Ferranti will study the recent recommendations of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) that all children ages 9-11 and 17-21 years old have blood drawn to check their cholesterol levels. When diet and exercise do not sufficiently lower high cholesterol levels, NHLBI recommends that primary care doctors and families consider a class of medications called statins. These recommendations were viewed as controversial in the medical community as previously, only children who had risk factors for high cholesterol were screened. Leslie and de Ferranti will study the risks and benefits of cholesterol screening and statin medications in children and adolescents, and will work with a stakeholder panel of teens, parents, and primary care providers to learn about their preferences and experiences.  The results of this study will significantly inform clinical decision-making about pediatric lipid screening and treatment at the individual patient level for adolescents and their parents, and permit tailoring of decision-making to improve patient outcomes.

“Today marks a major milestone in our work as we build a portfolio of comparative clinical effectiveness research that will provide patients and those who care for them better information about the health care decisions they face,” said PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, MD, MPH.  “These research projects reflect PCORI’s patient-centered research agenda, emphasizing the inclusion of patients and caregivers at all stages of the research.”

PCORI is committing $40.7 million in funding for a slate of 25 projects which were approved by PCORI’s Board of Governors following a competitive, multi-stage review process involving scientists, patients, caregivers and other stakeholders. Proposals were evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, engagement of patients and stakeholders, methodological rigor and fit within PCORI’s National Priorities for Research and Research Agenda. The awards were part of PCORI’s first cycle of primary research funding and selected from among nearly 500 completed applications submitted earlier this year. All proposals were approved pending a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and completion of a formal award contract.

“We appreciate PCORI’s support for research to help patients and their health care providers make more informed decisions about their care,” says Dr. Leslie. “Our study will focus on adolescents and their parents who are trying to decide with their primary care provider about cholesterol screening and ask, ‘What are the risks and benefits of different cholesterol screening and treatment strategies and what makes the most sense for me?’”

“While we have high quality small studies on the effect of statins on cholesterol in children with severe genetic cholesterol problems, we know very little about what goes into the adolescent or young adult’s decision-making process to start such a medication,” de Ferranti said.  “In my clinical practice, teens and their parents find this is a very hard decision.  More understanding on this topic will help me take care of my patients and their families."

For more information about PCORI’s Funding Announcements, visit


About Tufts Medical Center

Tufts Medical Center is an exceptional, not-for-profit, 415-bed academic medical center that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and Tufts Medical Center. Conveniently located in downtown Boston, the Medical Center is the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. Tufts Medical Center is the full-service children's hospital of Tufts Medical Center and the principal pediatric teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine. Tufts Medical Center is affiliated with the New England Quality Care Alliance, a network of more than 1,800 physicians throughout Eastern Massachusetts. For more information, please visit

Media Contact: 
Julie Jette