Photo of Darae Ko, MD, MSc, at the  Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging research, Boston, MA

Darae Ko, MD, MSc

  • Assistant Scientist II
  • Member of the Faculty of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Attending Cardiologist, Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, Boston Medical Center
  • Faculty

Dr. Ko is a cardiologist and a researcher. She is dedicated to generating evidence for and implementation of safe and effective novel cardiovascular therapies in medically complex older adults. She received her medical degree at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons and completed Internal Medicine Residency and Cardiovascular Medicine Fellowship at Boston Medical Center. Dr. Ko previously underwent post-doctoral training in atrial fibrillation (AF) epidemiology and anticoagulation science under the mentorships of Dr. Emelia Benjamin, MD, ScM, at Framingham Heart Study and Dr. Elaine Hylek, MD, MPH, respectively. She was a previous recipient of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/Merck Research Fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases and Cardioemtabolic Disorders and is currently funded by a K23 award from NHLBI.

Stroke prevention in AF has undergone a paradigm shift in the past decade. Availability of direct oral anticoagulants has substantially reduced the risk of bleeding complications of anticoagulation therapy and left atrial appendage occlusion is now emerging as an alternative to anticoagulation for people at high bleeding risk. But these therapies have been under-studied and under-utilized in medically complex older adults with AF, who make up the majority of the AF population. With the factor XIa inhibitors being tested in phase 3 clinical trials, Dr. Ko aims to build a geriatric pharmacoepidemiology program to generate evidence, in a more timely manner, for high risk older populations with AF.

I am a board-certified cardiologist and an early-career clinical investigator with a long-term goal to improve the health of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) by generating high-quality evidence and changing health care systems and policy.

I have three major career accomplishments to date attesting to my established or emerging expertise in AF research.

1) Content expertise in stroke prevention in AF:
My clinical research training began during internal medicine residency under the mentorship of Dr. Elaine Hylek (Professor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Section of General Internal Medicine), an international expert in AF-related stroke, which led to four first-author peer-reviewed publications in the field. The content expertise in AF-related stroke served as the foundation of my NHLBI K23 award, which focuses on AF detection to prevent recurrent stroke in patients with ischemic stroke. As a result of my expertise in the field, I was invited as a speaker for the 18th Global CardioVascular Clinical Trialists Forum, selected as a member of the National Cardiovascular Data Registry Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion Registry Research & Publication Subcommittee, invited as a faculty presenter for a CME live webcast, and published an editorial on atrial cardiopathy and cardioembolic stroke.

2) Methodological expertise in AF epidemiology: 
Prior to clinical cardiology fellowship, I underwent 3 years of post-doctoral training in AF epidemiology at Framingham Heart Study under the mentorship of Dr. Emelia Benjamin (Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Section of Cardiovascular Medicine; Professor of Epidemiology, Boston University School Public Health; Associate Provost for Faculty Development, Boston University Medical Campus), an international expert in the field, while supported by a T32 grant. Concurrently, I completed a Master of Science Degree in Epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health. My Framingham Heart Study post-doctoral training led to six first-author peer-reviewed publications on risk factors, risk prediction models, and sex differences in AF epidemiology and provided me with critical training in AF epidemiology needed to write my K23 award. As a result of my expertise in cardiovascular epidemiology, I was selected as a member of American Heart Association’s EPI Statist Committee of the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention and have been invited to contribute a chapter for the American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2023 Update.

3) Emerging expertise in geriatric pharmacoepidemiology and medical device epidemiology:
During my K23 award, I hope to generate high-quality real-world evidence on outcomes of drug and device therapies in older adults with AF. The prevalence of AF increases exponentially with advancing age, and AF affects ≈10% of adults over age 65 years. About 1 in 3 patients with AF are aged 80 years or above, and yet these patients and nearly 1 in 5 AF patients are frail. And yet, these patients are vastly underrepresented in clinical trials. I will leverage my prior training to conduct methodologically rigorous comparative effectiveness studies using administrative claims data (e.g., Medicare data) to guide clinical decisions for medically complex geriatric population with AF. Under the mentorship of Dr. Dae Hyun Kim (Associate Professor of Medicine, HMS; Associate Scientist, Marcus Institute for Aging Research), I have recently published a first-author peer-reviewed original research study highlighting substantial underutilization of oral anticoagulants in geriatric patients with AF and co-existing geriatric conditions. We have completed analyses for outcomes of oral anticoagulants in frail older adults with AF. I will be leading the investigations into utilization and outcomes of left atrial appendage occlusion using Medicare data.

As a practicing cardiologist, I attend on inpatient cardiology consult service, see patients in outpatient cardiology clinic, and read echocardiograms at Boston Medical Center. I participate in clinical training activities for medical students, interns and residents, and general cardiology fellows at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center. I have previously created and moderated “Meet the Attendings” series for Boston Medical Center cardiology fellows, one hour-long Q&A session with cardiology attendings, as a way for them to learn about different career pathways in cardiology.

2020 American College of Cardiology    
Foundation/Merck Research Fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases and Cardiometabolic Disorders
2021CVCT (CardioVascular Clinical Trialists) 
NHLBI Future Trialists Fellowship

Dr. Ko’s affiliations and collaborations include: 

  • Boston University Medical Center
  • The Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology at BIDMC
  • Framingham Heart Study
  • Massachusetts Area Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center

Research Areas

Learn more about the areas of research where Dr. Ko focuses.

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Data Science and Technology

The Marcus Institute includes a biostatistics and data sciences faculty who collaborate with investigators to design and conduct clinical trials and observational studies in aging.

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Health Care Services and Policy

The Marcus Institute seeks to effect change in policies that impact the care of older adults by identifying age-related conditions that have an outsized impact on health care utilization and costs, while developing interventions that mitigate the issues.

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Marcus Institute researchers are examining the relationship between medicine and adverse health outcomes such as falls, injuries, and treatment side effects among older people.

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Physical Health and Function

Through the Marcus Institute’s research we are learning how older adults can maintain independence and quality of life.

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Current Projects

View Dr. Ko's current projects. 

Risk-Guided Atrial Fibrillation Surveillance in Ischemic Stroke

This research aims to evaluate contemporary practices related to the use of an Implantable Loop Recorder (ILS) following ischemic stroke. Our goal is to develop a post-stroke atrial fibrillation (AF) risk prediction model using the national Veterans Health Administration electronic health records (EHR) and externally validate the model in the Boston Medical Center Stroke Database and develop an EHR-based post-stroke AF risk estimation tool and conduct a single-arm pilot test of the EHR tool to evaluate acceptability, adoption, and validity prior to RCT testing. 

Principal Investigator