Kobayashi receives SHEA award, reflecting remarkable scholarly work

Takaaki Kobayashi, MD, a third-year Infectious Disease (ID) fellow, received a Jonathan Freeman Scholarship from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). The Jonathan Freeman Scholarship nationally recognizes eight ID fellows who demonstrate a passion for hospital epidemiology and health care improvement. After publishing more than 30 epidemiologic research articles and case studies, Kobayashi earned his spot among the eight national awardees.

With guidance from clinical assistant professor and ID mentor Poorani Sekar, MD, Kobayashi has developed an eye for the noteworthy and unique in his manuscript submissions. In the past three years, Kobayashi published a case report in BMJ Case Reports, which looked at how exposure to contaminated aquarium water caused skin infection in a patient with Mycobacterium marinum. Most recently, Kobayashi published a case of periprosthetic joint injection (PJI) due to Aspergillus terreus in Open Forum Infectious Diseases.This case looked at how exposure to gardening soil used in creating fairy gardens led to a fungal infection in the patient’s prosthetic finger.

Kobayashi has published several epidemiologic research articles in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, including an investigation of the local incidence of tuberculosis, exposures and TB skin test conversion rates among health care workers. In a separate publication he noted that inflammation at the site of insertion of central lines (intravenous lines placed in seriously ill patients) can be a risk factor for infections and that surveillance of these line insertion sites could potentially reduce infection. He also published a paper in Clinical Infectious Diseases that assessed the utility of COVID-19 serial testing for all admitted patients every 5 days in identifying patients who were infected and isolating them quickly so as to prevent healthcare transmission of this infection.

Of working with Kobayashi, Sekar wrote:

I have greatly enjoyed working with Dr. Kobayashi. He is an excellent clinician who works tirelessly to make a diagnosis and treat complex patients. He is kind, empathetic, and a tireless patient advocate, reaching out to specialists across the country/world to ensure his patients are well cared for. The speed with which he is able to review a case and the literature amazes me. I have learned a lot from him through working on these projects. In addition to his role as a fellow and quality scholar, he is also a husband and father to two young kids and it never ceases to amaze me how he juggles all his responsibilities while keeping a calm and cheerful attitude. I consider Taka a friend and colleague and I know he is destined to be a leader in the field in the near future.

Kobayashi said, “Dr. Sekar is a wonderful mentor and friend. She is everything one could look for in a good mentor. She is empathetic, kind, and professional in her interaction with patients and colleagues which made working with her an interesting and memorable experience. These are qualities that I value and embody myself and will carry with me moving forward. I will always be grateful to her for her support and kindness.”

Before joining the Department of Internal Medicine in 2018, Kobayashi completed medical school at Juntendo University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan, and an internal medicine residency at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. In 2020, Kobayashi also joined the VA Quality Scholar Fellowship Program, which aims to train leaders and scholars in quality care through knowledge, research, and intervention. As a result of his quality improvement training, Kobayashi mentors and advises students, medical residents, and junior co-fellows. With the SHEA Jonathan Freeman Scholarship, Kobayashi further proves his leadership potential. He says that he is excited to pursue a career in the field of hospital epidemiology and Infectious diseases, continuing his research and mentoring future physicians, researchers, and leaders.

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