Stanford, Essentia Health join VUMC-based clinical research network

Jan 14, 2024 at 10:55 pm by Staff

Bill Snyder

The STAR Clinical Research Network, based at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), has added two new partners — Essentia Health, a Minnesota-based rural health care system, and Stanford University School of Medicine, one of the country’s leading academic medical centers.

The Stakeholders, Technology and Research Clinical Research Network (STAR CRN) robustly supports comparative effectiveness studies, pragmatic clinical trials, health system innovation, and other patient-centered research aimed at improving health care delivery and health outcomes.

Funded by the independent, nonprofit Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the STAR CRN encompasses 10 health care systems, scores of academic and community hospitals, and hundreds of outpatient practices and community stakeholders. It includes standardized electronic health record (EHR) data on over 15 million patients from across the country.

Russell Rothman, MD, MPP

In addition to VUMC and now Essentia Health and Stanford, members include the Vanderbilt Healthcare Affiliated Network, Meharry Medical College, the University of North Carolina Health Care System, Duke Health Care System, the Medical University of South Carolina, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and the Mayo Clinic.

“The expansion of the STAR CRN to include Stanford and Essentia enhances our capacity to engage diverse communities from across the country in patient-centered research,” said Russell Rothman, MD, MPP, the STAR CRN principal investigator and VUMC Senior Vice President for Population and Public Health.

Rothman, the Ingram Professor of Integrative and Population Health and professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Health Policy, also directs the Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health.

Essentia Health is a rural community-based, not-for-profit health system headquartered in northern Minnesota that stretches across northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and a small region of Michigan. It encompasses 14 hospitals, 78 clinics and more than 2,200 physicians and advanced practitioners.

“We are pleased to join the STAR Clinical Research Network and look forward to the many clinically relevant opportunities this represents for our patients and communities,” said Stephen Waring, DVM, PhD, principal scientist, Essentia Institute of Rural Health in Duluth, Minnesota.

“This allows us to extend our interests and expertise in patient-centered research that focuses on the patient voice to help guide the work we do, similar to studies we have already participated in such as ADAPTABLE, PREVENTABLE, PRECIDENTD and ACTIV-6,” Waring said.

The Stanford University School of Medicine and its adult health care delivery system, Stanford Health Care, include a major teaching medical center and acute-care community hospital, nearly 1,600 doctors and more than 1,200 clinics and locations throughout Northern California.

“We are delighted that Stanford will be part of the STAR CRN as its first West Coast partner,” said principal investigator Tina Hernandez-Boussard, PhD, MPH, associate dean of research and professor of medicine at Stanford.

“We have a deep and rich tradition of faculty conducting innovative comparative effectiveness studies and leveraging the diversity of our patient population and established EHR platforms,” she said. “We look forward to a productive and successful collaboration with all the STAR CRN partners.”

PCORI was authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund research aimed at improving the health of entire populations. In 2014, VUMC received its first grant from PCORI to establish what was then called the Mid-South Clinical Data Research Network as part of the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network.

In 2019, with the addition of the Mayo Clinic, which has major campuses in Rochester, Minnesota, Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona, and Jacksonville, Florida, and Wake Forest Baptist Health, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the network changed its name to STAR CRN.

STAR CRN has focused on research to improve health across many common and rare diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, COVID-19, vasculitis and other conditions.

Recent studies have included the relationship between COVID-19 and diabetes, and interventions to treat COVID-19. The STAR CRN also participated in a national trial that found a single daily baby or adult aspirin was equally safe and effective for the prevention of adverse cardiovascular events in patients with established cardiovascular disease.

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