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Meet the Researcher: Dr. Daniel Skiest

February 13, 2020
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Name: Daniel Skiest, MD, FACP, FIDSA

Title/Academic Rank: Director of the Adult HIV/AIDS Program and Director of Clinical Research for the Division of Infectious Disease at Baystate Health; Vice Chair for Academic Affairs, Department of Medicine, and Professor of Medicine at UMMS-Baystate

Department: Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

Number of years at Baystate: Almost 15 years

What research training do you have? I have not had formal research training, mostly self-taught and learned as I went along.

What got you interested in research overall? I consider myself a clinician who became interested in clinical research in my career. During my residency and fellowship, I observed several clinical scenarios, and to my surprise, there were not any good studies and there was a surprising lack of information in certain areas. I liked the idea of being able to come up with a relevant clinical question and then trying to find some answers. I also enjoyed the process of analyzing the data and writing the manuscript and/or presenting the findings to my colleagues. I liked the fact that I could make contributions to the literature, which would not only help other clinicians but ultimately improve outcomes for patients.

What is your area of research? My primary areas of interest have involved Infectious Diseases, primarily HIV/AIDS. During my training in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, HIV was greatly feared. There were no effective treatments to treat the underlying cause. I realized that there was still a lot to be learned from this relatively new disease and that I was in a position to help patients. During my fellowship I worked on some clinical research projects on HIV, including a case-control study of HIV in the elderly. At the time there was very little literature on the topic. Now it is major issue in the field. My first faculty position was at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas in 1994. The HIV clinic at Parkland Hospital (the county hospital for Dallas County), where I saw patients and taught, followed over 3,000 patients. By being observant and collaborating with others I was able to publish several series and developed investigator-initiated protocols. Around the same time we established an HIV clinical trials unit and participated in a number of important multicenter clinical trials which led to important advances in the field of HIV.

How do you see your research improving care for patients? The ultimate goal of research is to improve patient care. I appreciate the fact that I was able to make some small contributions to improving patient care.

What have been some of your favorite research projects to date that you have organized/participated in? I have been involved in a number of multicenter and single center studies. While I was at UT Southwestern I was an investigator for the AIDS Clinical Trials Group, which is a multicenter network funded by the NIH. I was able to lead a multicenter national study and participate in several other multicenter studies.

Do you have any awards? Yes, I was honored to receive the 2016 Weinberg Award for Academic Excellence at Baystate and I received the SmithKline Beecham Junior Faculty Award in Infectious Diseases at UT Southwestern.

What do you like most about your job? I like the variety of my job. I have the opportunity to do clinical work and help my patients, mentor fellows and residents, and participate in clinical research while interacting with numerous interesting colleagues.

What do you do to unwind outside of work? Biking, hiking, reading, travel, and spending time with family.