Sonis Lectures

Otto Valdez2023 - The National Healthcare System Action Alliance to Advance Patient Safety: Improving Patient and Healthcare Workforce Safety

Wednesday, March 29, 1 P.M. 

In person or virtual options
University Club, Ballroom B

Register today!

Keynote Speaker

Robert Otto Valdez, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality


Robert Otto Valdez, was appointed director of AHRQ in February 2022. He was previously the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Professor Emeritus of Family & Community Medicine and Economics at the University of New Mexico.  He received his PhD from the Pardee RAND Graduate School for Public Policy Studies specializing in studies of health care financing and quality of medical care. At the University of Michigan School of Public Health, he was awarded a master of health policy and administration. At Harvard University, Valdez studied in the Department of History and Science specializing in Latin American history and biochemistry.

About the Lecture

The Sonis Lecture is our major annual event focusing on health care quality and safety honoring Anne C. Sonis for over two decades. The lecture draws a broad audience, from residents, fellows, faculty, students, and alumni from across Pitt's Schools of the Health Sciences and health practitioners and administrators from UPMC, UPMC Health Plan, the VA, and throughout the region. Sponsored by the family of Anne C. Sonis, the Pitt Public Health Department of Health Policy and Management, the Center for Research on Health Care of the Division of General Internal Medicine, the Wolff Center at UPMC, and the UPMC Health Plan.

Part of the Dr. Loren Roth Quality and Patient Safety Speaker Series of UPMC. 

2022 Lecture

What Does a Learning Health System Really Mean?

Tuesday, March 22


Keynote Speaker

Derek AngusDerek C. Angus, MD, MPH, FRCP
Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Care Innovation, Health Sciences
Distinguished Professor, Mitchell P. Fink Professor, and Chair of Critical Care Medicine, Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine
Professor of Health Policy and Management, Graduate School of Public Health
Professor of Clinical and Translational Science, University of Pittsburgh
Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, UPMC


Derek Angus is executive vice president and chief innovation officer at UPMC. He oversees UPMC's clinical research, implementation science and data analysis, with a particular emphasis on UPMC's learning health system initiatives. He also is associate vice chancellor for health care innovation for the Schools of the Health Sciences at Pitt. He is a distinguished professor and holds the Mitchell P. Fink Endowed Chair in Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, with secondary appointments in medicine, health policy and management, and clinical and translational science. Since 2008, Angus has served as chair of the Department of Critical Care Medicine. Since 2015, he also has been the physician director of the UPMC ICU Service Center, responsible for the provision of ICU services across the 30-plus hospital system. He also is a senior editor at JAMA. 

Angus is a world-renowned clinical, translational and health services researcher. His research interests include clinical, epidemiologic and translational studies of sepsis, pneumonia and multisystem organ failure as well as health services research of the organization and delivery of critical care services. He is a leader in developing and evaluating approaches to facilitate smarter decision making and faster learning in health care, including novel Bayesian adaptive platform trial designs, the application of machine learning to large-scale data, and the use of behavioral economics and decision psychology to support optimal decision making. He has led numerous NIH-funded multicenter studies, written several hundred papers and is a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher. 

A fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom, he has received multiple national and international honors, including election to the American College of Physicians, Honorary Lifetime Membership of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine, Distinguished Research Award of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, and introduction into the inaugural class of Masters of the American College of Critical Care Medicine. He completed medical school and internal medicine training at the University of Glasgow and affiliated teaching hospitals, and he completed a fellowship in Critical Care Medicine and his MPH in Health Services Administration at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Read a list of Angus' publications.

2021 Lecture

Successes in Telemedicine - Caring for Patients at Home Part of the Dr. Loren Roth Speaker Series of UPMC

Tuesday, March 23, 1-2:30 P.M.

Virtual via Zoom

Keynote Speaker

KvedarJoseph C. Kvedar, MD
Chair of the Board, American Telemedicine Association
Professor, Harvard Medical School
Senior Advisor, Virtual Care, Mass General Brigham
Editor, npj Digital Magazine

Also featuring: 

Richard J. Wadas, MD, FACEP, FAEMS
Executive Vice Chair, Community Emergency Medicine
Senior Medical Director, Center for Community Hospital Medicine
Medical Director, Office of Referring Physician Relations/MedCall
Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Robert Bart, MD
Chief Medical Information Officer, UPMC

About the Speaker

At Mass General Brigham (formerly Partners HealthCare), Dr. Joe Kvedar has focused on driving innovation, creating the market, and gaining acceptance for connected health for nearly three decades. He is now applying his expertise, insights, and influence to advancing adoption of telehealth and virtual care technologies at the national level. Dr. Kvedar continues to guide the transformation of healthcare delivery as a respected thought leader, author, and convener.

Dr. Kvedar is Chair of the Board of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA). As Editor-in-Chief of npj Digital Medicine, a Nature Research journal, he is working to establish the evidence base needed to guide innovation and the implementation of virtual care.

He is co-chair the American Medical Association's (AMA) Digital Medicine Payment Advisory Group (DMPAG), which works to ensure widespread coverage of telehealth and remote patient monitoring, and successfully established several new provider codes for telehealth reimbursement through the CPT process. Dr. Kvedar is also a member of the AAMC’s (Association of American Medical Colleges) telehealth committee, creating tools that will enable medical schools and residency programs to integrate telehealth into the training of future practitioners.

Dr. Kvedar is the author of two books: The Internet of Healthy Things and The New Mobile Age: How Technology Will Extend the Healthspan and Optimize the Lifespan. The cHealth Blog provides his insights and vision for connected health.

Dr. Kvedar is a Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School.

Connect on Twitter @jkvedar

Connect on Linkedin

2020 Lecture

Monday, February 10, 1-3:30 P.M.

University Club, Ballroom B
123 University Place
Pittsburgh, PA  15260

Keynote Speaker

Allan Frankel, Managing Partner for Safe and Reliable Healthcare 


About the Speaker

Allan Frankel is a globally recognized high reliability expert with a deep focus on leadership and culture change. He also serves as senior faculty for the IHI and Intermountain Advanced Training Program. He has worked with organizations such as The Joint Commission, authored many peer-reviewed publications, co-developed many survey instruments for the U.S. and other countries, and continues to serve as senior advisor for reliability for organizations such as the Military Health System, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, and several leading health systems. 

Previous Sonis Lecture Speakers and Topics

2017 - “Restoring Public Trust in Professional Self-Regulation"
Thomas H. Gallagher, professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Bioethics and Humanities, University of Washington

2015 - "Palliative Care Futurist: Matching Care to Our Patient’s Needs"
Diane E. Meier, director, Center to Advance Palliative Care; co-director, Patty and Jay Baker Palliative Care National Center; Catherine Gaisman Professor of Medical Ethics; vice-chair for public policy and professor; Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; New York, N.Y.

2014 - “Learning Organizations, Implementation Science and Quality Improvement: Health Services Research at the Crossroads”
Lisa V. Rubenstein, professor of medicine and public health, VA of Greater Los Angeles and UCLA; director, Center for Implementation Practice and Research Support, senior scientist, RAND, Los Angeles, California

2013 - "Will Equity Be Achieved Through Health Care Reform?"
John Ayanian, collegiate professor of internal medicine, professor of health management and policy, professor of health policy; director, Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, University if Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

2012 - "The Affordable Care Act and the Broken U.S. Healthcare Delivery System: Strong Medicine or Placebo?"
Ashish Jha, associate professor of health policy and management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts

2011 - "Comparative Effectiveness Research: The Essentials"
Harold C. Sox, professor of medicine, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire; editor emeritus, Annals of Internal Medicine

2010 - "Tilting at Windmills: The Quest for Health Reform"
Elizabeth A. McGlynn, associate director, RAND Health, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California 

2009 - "Chaos and Organization in Healthcare" 
Thomas Lee, network president, Partners HealthCare, Boston, Massachusetts

2008 - "Health Care: Solutions without Borders"
Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund, New York, N.Y.

2007 - "Making Tomorrow's Vision Today's Reality: Improving Patient Safety through Value-Based Health Care"
Carolyn M. Clancy, director of the Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, Maryland

2006 - "Safe, Effective, Efficient, and Compassionate Health Care Without the Need for an Advocate"
Jonathan B. Perlin, undersecretary for health, Department of Veteran Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Washington, D.C.

2005 - "What It Will Really Take to Improve Our Nation's Health System" 
Stephen M. Shortell, dean, School of Public Health, and Blue Cross of California Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley

2003 - "The Geology of the Quality Chasm" 
Edward Wagner, director of W.A. MacColl Institute for Healthcare Innovation; professor of public health and community medicine, University of Washington, Seattle

2002 - "Money, Medicine, and the Physician-Patient Relationship"
Wendy Levinson, professor of medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2001 - "Descent into Hell: Understanding Quality of Life in Cancer from the Researcher-Patient's Perspective"
William M. Tierney, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine; senior research scientist, Regenstrief Institute for Health Care, Indianapolis, Indiana

2000 -  "Drug Safety: How Big a Problem? What Can Be Done?"
David W. Bates, professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School; chief of the Division of General Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

1999 -  "Quality of Health Care: Where Will It Be in the Next Century?" 
Robert H. Brook, director, RAND Health Sciences Program, Santa Monica, California

1998 - "Improving Physicians' Clinical Decisions: Art or Science?" 
Stephen B. Soumerai, associate professor of ambulatory care and prevention, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

1997 - "Quality of Health Care: Where Will It Be in the Next Century?"
Robert H. Brook, director, RAND Health Sciences Program, Santa Monica, California

1996 - "Medical Injury, Malpractice Litigation, and the Cost of Health Care in the United States"
Troyen E. Brennan, professor of medicine, law, and public health, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts

1995 - Irwing Redlener, MD

1990's Inaugural Lecture by C. Everette Koop, Surgeon General of the U.S. 1982-1989