September 7, 2018: NIH Collaboratory: Research Transformation in Progress (Adrian Hernandez MD, MHS, Kevin Weinfurt, PhD, Lesley Curtis, PhD)


Adrian F. Hernandez, MD, MHS
Professor of Medicine
Vice Dean for Clinical Research
Duke University School of Medicine

Kevin Weinfurt, PhD
Professor and Vice Chair for Research
Department of Population Health Sciences
Duke University School of Medicine

Lesley H. Curtis, PhD
Chair and Professor
Department of Population Health Sciences
Duke University School of Medicine
Interim Executive Director, Duke Clinical Research Institute


NIH Collaboratory: Research Transformation in Progress


Clinical trials; Research studies; Healthcare delivery; Clinical care; embedded pragmatic clinical trials; ePCTs; Peer-reviewed journals; Demonstration projects; NIH funding

Key Points

  • The goal of the NIH Collaboratory is to strengthen the national capacity to implement cost-effective large-scale research studies that engage healthcare delivery organizations as research partners.
  • Embedded pragmatic clinical trials bridge research into clinical care.
  • The NIH Collaboratory has contributed to 80 publications about embedded pragmatic trials in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Six new demonstration projects were recently added to the NIH Collaboratory portfolio:
    • Improving Advance Care Planning in Oncology: A Pragmatic, Cluster-Randomized Trial Integrating Patient Videos and Clinician Communication Training (ACP PEACE)
    • Pragmatic Trial of Higher vs. Lower Serum Phosphate Targets in Patients Undergoing Hemodialysis (HiLo)
    • Pragmatic Trial of Parent-Focused Prevention in Pediatric Primary Care: Implementation and Adolescent Health Outcomes in Three Health Systems (GGC4H: Guiding Good Choices for Health)
    • Pragmatic Trial of User-Centered Clinical Decision Support to Implement Emergency Department-Initiated Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder (EMBED)
    • Personalized Patient Data and Behavioral Nudges to Improve Adherence to Chronic Cardiovascular Medications (Nudge)
      Primary Palliative Care for Emergency Medicine (PRIM-ER)

Discussion Themes

The NIH Collaboratory is addressing many of the challenges and logistical barriers to conducting pragmatic clinical trials embedded in healthcare systems. There is still progress to be made in explaining the value and benefit of embedded PCTs (ePCTs) to healthcare leadership.

The NIH Collaboratory workshops have had a positive impact and have increased NIH’s interest in supporting the conduct of ePCTs.

Determining how pragmatic clinical trials can be conducted more routinely will be critical to their impact.



@texhern, @lmhcurtis, @PCTGrandRounds, #pctGR #ClinicalResearch, #researchstudies, #clinicaltrials, #clinicalcare, #peerreviewed

August 24, 2018: FoodSwitch USA: A Mobile Platform for Packaged Food Surveillance and Behavioral Research (Mark Huffman, MD, MPH)


Mark Huffman, MD, MPH
Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Medicine-Cardiology
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


FoodSwitch USA: A Mobile Platform for Packaged Food Surveillance and Behavioral Research


FoodSwitch app; Mobile platform; Behavioral research; Packaged food surveillance; Crowdsourcing; Food supply; One Brave Idea; Community engagement; Health research; Food labeling

Key Points

  • FoodSwitch USA is a mobile platform that uses crowdsourcing for packaged food surveillance and can be used for behavioral research.
  • Crowdsourcing can be used to generate ideas, improve data collection, and enhance community engagement in health research.
  • The Global Food Monitoring Group brings together data on nutritional information for processed foods and can be used to drive national and international improvements in the food supply. There are 31 countries involved, with two-thirds representing lower to middle income countries.

Discussion Themes

There are hopes that FoodSwitch USA will eventually be classified as a mobile medical app by the FDA because the goal is to prove that if the application is used, it can help people lower their blood pressure by reducing their salt intake.

The FoodSwitch USA project is in the early stages of community engagement. There are current efforts to increase media exposure so that more are aware of the application and its benefits. The benefits include an easier sign up process, no “up-selling” to a premium model, and no linkage to any profit-driven interests.

 Crowdsourcing data “noise” can be reduced at the Label Insight level. Learn more about Food Switch USA and Label Insight.



@Mark_Huffman, @NUFeinbergMed, #MobilePlatform, #pctGR, #OneBraveIdea, #processedfoods, #communityengagement, #healthresearch, #crowdsourcing

August 17, 2018: The PCORnet Bariatric Study: Preliminary Results from a Large PCORnet Demonstration Project (David Arterburn, MD, MPH, Kathleen McTigue, MD, MPH, Neely Williams, Mdiv, Laura Rasmussen-Torvik, PhD)


David Arterburn, MD, MPH
Kaiser Permanente Washington

Kathleen McTigue, MD, MPH
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Neely Williams, Mdiv
Patient Collaborator, Mid-South CDRN

Laura Rasmussen-Torvik, PhD
Northwestern Medicine


The PCORnet Bariatric Study: Preliminary Results from a Large PCORnet Demonstration Project


PCORnet bariatric study; Weight loss; Diabetes risk; Stakeholder involvement; Health systems data; Clinical data research networks; Adjustable gastric band; Roux-en-Y gastric bypass; Vertical sleeve gastrectomy

Key Points

  • In 2014, the PCORnet Obesity Task Force was established to help generate and prioritize obesity research topics. Their work led to a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) funding announcement for two topics: weight loss surgery and effects of antibiotics on weight in children.
  • The PCORnet Bariatric Study assessed the three most commonly used weight loss procedures and impacts on weight loss/gain, improvement in diabetes risk, and adverse events over 1-, 3-, and 5-year periods. 
  • More than 46,000 adults and nearly one dozen health systems helped contribute data in the PCORnet Bariatric Study.

Discussion Themes

The qualitative aims of the PCORnet Bariatric Study will complement the quantitative aims by incorporating interviews with surgeons and bariatric patients. The analysis of the qualitative aims is still ongoing.

The dissemination plan for the PCORnet Bariatric Study includes lay summaries for each of the project aims. When all publications have completed the peer-review process, the lay summaries will be developed and publicly shared.

The PCORnet Bariatric Study is an example of the power of aggregated data using the PCORnet Common Data Model (CDM). Visit the PCORnet CDM webpage to learn more.



@PCORnetwork, @davearterburn, #pctGR, #weightloss, #diabetes, #sleevegastrectomy

August 14, 2018: Interview With NIH Collaboratory Leadership Highlights New Demonstration Projects

In a recent video interview, NIH Collaboratory leaders Dr. Lesley Curtis, Dr. Adrian Hernandez, and Dr. Catherine Meyers share their enthusiasm for the Collaboratory’s 6 new Demonstration Projects. The projects include new areas of expertise, such as pediatrics, new digital technologies, and the Collaboratory’s first A vs B trial.

“The new demonstration projects coming into the Collaboratory provide the opportunity to generate more knowledge and new knowledge about what works best in these settings. That’s really exciting.”—Lesley Curtis, PhD

August 13, 2018: JAMA Commentary Highlights the Value of Data Enclaves and Distributed Data Networks

In a JAMA Viewpoint published online last week, NIH Collaboratory investigator Dr. Richard Platt and colleague Dr. Tracy Lieu discuss the value of “data enclaves” to facilitate information sharing in support of research, quality improvement, and public health reporting.

Creating data enclaves allows health systems to share useful information from their clinical data without releasing the actual data. Data enclaves can be linked with each other in distributed data networks to create powerful resources for researchers and other analysts. The authors note that efforts to realize this vision must address concerns about protecting patients’ personal information, the costs and work required to make the data usable for analysis, and incentives for health systems to participate.

Dr. Platt is a cochair of the NIH Collaboratory’s Distributed Research Network, which uses a common data model that enables investigators to collaborate with each other in the use of electronic health data while safeguarding protected health information and proprietary data.