Emily Kraus and Megan Roche have been named Medical Research Directors for the Western States Endurance Run, WSER President Diana Fitzpatrick announced.
Kraus and Roche succeed John Diana, who had served as Medical Research Director for WSER since 2016.
“Emily and Megan both bring impeccable professional credentials as well as a deep understanding of our sport to their new post,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have always viewed our medical research director position as one that needs to constantly evolve as runners in the sport increasingly turn to science-based information for the best practices in enhancing human performance. With Emily and Megan, we have two individuals who have proven track records in understanding the value of collaborative approaches in research, catalyzing that research and making it available for the betterment of the running community.
“They are both incredibly dynamic individuals who we feel will help take our medical research effort to the next level. I wish to thank Dr. John Diana for his incredible record of service to WSER over the past few years. Dr. Diana brought his own personal brand of collegiality, professional sense of collaboration and a strong sense of cohesiveness to our medical research effort. We are extremely grateful for all of the work he did in furthering our research agenda.”
Added WSER Medical Director Andy Pasternak: “Emily and Megan have all of the professional experience and personal qualities necessary to lead WSER’s medical research enterprise. Their insight into what the position needs to do in the coming years is very exciting. They truly wish to see our medical research endeavors continue the impactful legacy that has already been established by our previous medical research directors, while also positioning our future research studies so that they can help re-define how science-based discovery and translational research is being used to further our sport.”
Kraus is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine. She received her M.D. from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2012 and her B.S. in Nutrition Science from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 2008. She has produced more than 20 peer-reviewed original research papers on a variety of topics. In 2018-2020, she served as principal investigator for a study at Western States on “Genetic and Serologic Determinants of Bone Health in Ultramarathoners,” which was renewed for further study in 2021.
Roche is the Research Lead for the Stanford Lifestyle Medicine Program as well as Research Lead for FASTR (Female Athlete Science and Translational Research). She is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She received her M.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine in 2018, earned her M.M.S. in Management from Duke University in 2013 and her B.S. in Neuroscience from Duke in 2012. Her more than a dozen research publications include studies on bone stress and mental health of athletes, among many others.
For more than 40 years, medical research activity has played an important role at the Western States Endurance Run. WSER’s late Medical Director Dr. Robert Lind welcomed and encouraged researchers from throughout the country and the world to come to WSER and study its runners. One of the earliest studies that established the connection between the body’s release of endorphins and physical activity was conducted at WSER in 1981 by Dr. Walter Bortz of Stanford University. Since 2006, more than 80 research publications or abstracts in human performance have been produced by researchers from throughout the world based on studies conducted on WSER runners.