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Clinical data reach grows with STAR CRN

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a member of the Mid-South Clinical Data Research Network (Mid-South CDRN) under the leadership of Tim Carey, MD, MPH (UNC site PI; Network Co-PI). The network is a collaborative effort among a group of large health care systems to support and conduct innovative comparative effectiveness research and pragmatic clinical trials.

Recently the network welcomed two new members – the Mayo Clinic, which has locations around the country, and Wake Forest Baptist Health, an affiliate of Wake Forest University, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina – and is in the process of changing its name to Stakeholders, Technology, and Research Clinical Research Network, or STAR CRN.

The network, which is one of several founded in 2014 with funding from the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet), was recently awarded $3.2 million of additional infrastructure funding from the People-Centered Research Foundation (PCRF).

The new organization, led by Russell Rothman, MD, MPP (Network PI) of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, includes over 65 hospitals and 500 clinics with electronic health record data on over 14 million people.

The network provides a secure clinical research platform to facilitate use of data from electronic health records, and “engages patients, clinicians and other stakeholders for a broad array of research and learning health system innovation,” Rothman said.

"We’re very thankful to PCRF for this continued funding, and also very pleased to welcome Mayo and Wake to our network. Our aim is to improve the health of entire populations, and this expansion gives our network a new geographical reach, with electronic health record data on over 14 million patients. Together we’re bringing new flexibility, efficiency and power to clinical trials and effectiveness research," said Rothman, professor of Medicine, Ingram Professor of Integrative and Population Health, and director of the Vanderbilt Center for Health Services Research.

Carey, co-PI of the STAR network, emphasized that this type of federated network provides opportunities for UNC investigators to participate in or lead large, multi-site projects, and for patients to participate in testing newer diagnostics and treatments. "UNC is clearly benefiting from these activities, and I’m especially pleased that our governance process involves full engagement by patient representatives."

Among recent research based on data from the network have been a study showing that adults with severe obesity had greater initial and sustained weight loss with gastric bypass surgery than with either sleeve gastrectomy or adjustable gastric banding, and a study showing that antibiotic use at younger than 24 months of age was associated with slightly higher body weight at age 5.

The STAR CRN partners now include VUMC, the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network, Meharry Medical College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University Medical Center, Health Sciences South Carolina, Wake Forest School of Medicine and Wake Forest Baptist Health, and Mayo Clinic.

Text adapted from this story by Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Carolina’s involvement in STAR CRN is managed by the NC TraCS Institute.

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Michelle Maclay, Communications Director