Faculty Spotlight

Matthew L. Bush, MD, PhD, is the Vice Chair for Research and an Associate Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery in the College of Medicine. Dr. Bush is also a practicing otolaryngologist at the University of Kentucky Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic. He cares for adults and children that suffer from hearing loss which impacts their communication, especially among children developing oral language skills. Dr. Bush is a founding affiliate of the Center for Health Equity Transformation.

The expertise Dr. Bush brings to CHET includes team-based science in research on children, surgical research experience, clinical trial methodology, dissemination and implementation, inclusive research collaborations that encompass state government, university, and community partners across the social determinants of health. Dr. Bush became interested in health disparities through his upbringing in the Appalachian region, and carried his connection to the geography, culture, and land into his academic training. Caring for children from rural communities that have fallen through the cracks of the healthcare system, as well as older adults that suffer from hearing loss as well as issues such as social isolation and lack of access to resources, inspired Dr. Bush to pursue a clinical and research career focused on rural disparities.

In addressing disparities, Dr. Bush has embraced collaboration and transdisciplinary research and sought diverse partners, due to the limited resources available to many of his patients.

“I think the healthy team is able to really level out and mitigate the weaknesses that individuals may have…and generate new ideas,” Dr. Bush says.

Dr. Bush reaped the benefits of true collaboration through a partnership with Dr. Christina Studts whose work includes behavioral issues in children. After moving from discussing potential opportunities to meaningful partnership, they began publishing, writing grants, and celebrating successes together. In Dr. Bush’s words, “…it makes research more fun.”

His approach to research, from developing questions to disseminating results, centers patients’ experiences. One example of this approach is a patient navigation model to increase the number of children from rural areas who receive needed follow-up care after newborn hearing screenings. Another project partners with the Office of Children with Special Healthcare Needs to provide support to families of children with hearing loss and co-existing conditions such as behavioral problems.

Dr. Bush hopes to assist CHET expand its presence on campus and in communities, and serve as a catalyst for health equity research priorities.