Kerri Cavanaugh, MD, MHS, is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension within the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She also serves as an attending physician at the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System Nashville VA.
Dr. Cavanaugh is the past medical director of the Vanderbilt Dialysis Clinic in-center and home dialysis programs, including pediatrics, serving in the role for nearly ten years and striving for continual program improvement with a focus on patients’ experiences with care.
To support patient-centered initiatives and engage faculty from across VUMC, Dr. Cavanaugh serves as the director of the Center for Effective Health Communication. This center provides programming and resources to connect investigators and accelerate scientific discoveries in the field of health communication. Dr. Cavanaugh’s research focuses on identifying ways to improve doctors’ and other health providers’ communication with patients and their families. Key contributions have determined the influence of health literacy, establishing it as a cornerstone of any successful patient engagement program, and novel surveys measuring patient knowledge, self-efficacy, and self-care behaviors tailored to people living with kidney disease.
Dr. Cavanaugh further advances these discoveries by testing novel interventions in collaborative multi-site clinical trials to enhance patient engagement, self-care, quality of life, and clinical outcomes. These tools and surveys are available freely to investigators to include in their studies worldwide. She has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the National Kidney Foundation, and the American Society of Nephrology to support this research, and its results have been highlighted in the top tier scientific journals including Annals of Internal Medicine, Kidney International, the American Journal of Kidney Disease, the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, and the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Dr. Cavanaugh was honored with the ASN Mid-Career Mentorship award for her dedication to training future kidney health scientists. She currently serves as the faculty lead for the Vanderbilt Patient, Family and Community advisory group, supported by the NIH Vanderbilt O’Brien Center. This stakeholder group provides input to research initiatives as well as programming in middle Tennessee. She has served on various committees for the Tennessee Kidney Foundation and contributes to screening, lobbying and other advocacy in the Nashville community. She is a member of the American Society of Nephrology Kidney Week committee, serves on editorial boards for AJKD, CJASN and Medical-Decision Making.
Dr. Cavanaugh strives to bring scientific discoveries into the community with key partners and ultimately to translate these into better kidney health.