Faculty Spotlight: Lori Orlando, MD, MHS

Lori Orlando, MD

Lori Orlando, MD, MHS

Dr. Lori Orlando is the subject of this week’s faculty spotlight. Orlando talks about falling into her unique role in Precision Medicine and what it’s like to be an internist for Duke Executive Health. Read more about her passions for the out-of-doors, even horseback riding!

How long have you been at Duke? How long have you been in the division of General Internal Medicine?

After completing my Chief Residency at Tulane in 2002 I came to Duke as an HSRD fellow under David Matchar’s mentorship. I had originally planned on completing the fellowship and then returning to Tulane to establish a training program in decision modeling and decision making there, but I was having so much fun at Duke I decided to stay a little longer which has now turned into 13 years.

What are your responsibilities within the division? What does a typical day for you look like?

I am currently the Director of the Precision Medicine program in the Center for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine (CAGPM) and a practicing internist in Executive Health 2 days per week.

How did you get involved with CAGPM?

It was entirely unplanned and to some extent unexpected. At the time I had no intention of becoming involved in genomics research – in fact I was a little frustrated with the frequent JAMA articles on SNP associations published in the early 2000s. The analytic methods were poor and there were few attempts to understand clinical validity or utility. In 2009 Geoff Ginsburg, then the Director of Genomic Medicine in the IGSP, approached me about leading a multi-institutional trial integrating family health history based risk assessments into primary care practices. To say the least, the idea was intriguing. The results of that study were overwhelmingly rewarding – both the patients and providers loved it – and I was hooked. It’s not often that you have the opportunity to really impact how clinical care is provided. Since then we’ve been going non-stop and have grown our research portfolio to include risk assessment/risk management, behavioral interventions, mHealth, and treatment strategies. It’s a very exciting time to be in translational research.

What’s it like being a physician in Executive Health?

Executive health is an incredibly rewarding environment. Our program functions as a true team with health coaches, a fitness expert, nutritionist, and psychologist who all work together to establish an individualized plan for each patient. We really focus on what their preferences are, their day is like, how much time they spend traveling, and so on… to design a health plan that works for them.

I would like to clarify one common misconception. Executive Health is not a concierge primary care practice. We provide healthcare for busy company employees who frequently overlook their health in their demanding jobs.

says Dr. Orlando, a popular  internist in this Executive Health program.

We help them to get the preventive health they need and to integrate healthier lifestyles and balance into their hectic lives. It’s a unique approach to medicine and one that is very rewarding.

How did you get into internal medicine?

I always knew I wanted to be in internal medicine. The relationship with my patients is what made medical school and residency some of the most rewarding in my life. I grew up on a farm and I love the country so my plan was to practice in very rural settings – trading chickens for medical care. Somehow the allure of research pulled me in to academics and I’ve never looked back – though sometimes I still think about how things would be different if I had followed my original path (besides having a lot more chickens).

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of the division?

Dr. Orlando's FamilyI love being outside. I grew up on a breeding horse farm and rode jumpers professionally before going to medical school. I still have horses and live on a farm in Hillsborough. My family is very outdoorsy and we hike, mountain bike, waterski, and snow ski as much as we can. I hiked a third of the Appalachian Trail before medical school which was an incredible experience. Nothing makes you appreciate running water more than spending 6 weeks in the wilderness!

Have you recently read any books, articles, blog posts or other material that would be of interest to the division?

I read all the time and my interests are broad. I’m not entirely sure what would be of interest to the division but The Emperor of All Maladies is just a lovely book to read – and very informative. I also like The Information: A history, A theory, A flood. This summer I read both the disappearing spoon and Shooting Victoria – both were wonderfully interesting and very well written.