UCSF Gears Up to Respond to National Funding Opportunities for Comparative Effectiveness Research

Deborah Grady

To jump-start the nation’s efforts to accelerate comparative effectiveness research (CER), Congress appropriated $1.1 billion for CER through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

CER encompasses a broad range of research targeted to determining which health care strategies work best for specific groups of people. It includes systematic reviews, observational studies, health services research, medical decision-making and comparative clinical trials. Research in “real world” settings is particularly encouraged, such as using patient registries, electronic medical records and community-based networks.

CER funds will be allocated through three major federal agencies: the Association for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The first funding opportunities have already been published and will be followed by more grants and contract solicitations in the coming weeks.

Several UCSF faculty members participated in guiding the CER agenda on the national stage, drafting priority areas as part of an Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee. Those instrumental in the process of shaping priorities include Eugene Washington, MD, executive vice chancellor and provost, Neil Powe, MD, MPH, MBA, chief of medical services at San Francisco General Hospital, and Joe Selby, MD, MPH, director of the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente Northern California and co-director of UCSF’s Clinical & Translational Science Institute’s (CTSI) Community-Engagement program. 

Washington has now charged leaders at the CTSI to help foster campuswide efforts to ensure that UCSF is at the forefront of CER and is able to capitalize on new funding opportunities.

“We’ll need rapid and coordinated action from the UCSF campus and individual investigators,” says Deborah Grady, MD, MPH, CTSI co-director. “Like other ARRA funding opportunities, every dollar must be spent over the next two years.”

CTSI has already convened several meetings bringing together CER investigators on campus to discuss opportunities, potential collaborations and infrastructure needs.

Join the CER email list, if you like to be informed of CER funding opportunities and potential collaborations.

Today more than half of the medical treatments are delivered without clear evidence of effectiveness. As patients increasingly and appropriately want to take responsibility for their care, more comparative information about outcomes of health care is needed to enable informed decision-making.

“UCSF has great breadth and depth in CER, in spite of a history of anemic funding. Now is the chance to build on that expertise and become a national model. This can only happen through collaboration”, says Clay Johnston, MD, PhD, CTSI Director.

CTSI was founded in 2006 to promote research and education in translational and clinical science at UCSF. It is part of a 46-institution Clinical & Translational Award (CTSA) national network funded and facilitated by the NIH.  The institute plays a key role in driving innovation in research at UCSF by providing infrastructure, services and advocacy to improve the translation of basic science to better health for communities. On the national stage, CTSI helps set standards and priorities to advance clinical and translational research.

Information about CER funding opportunities is being shared through a listserv, and faculty who would like to be informed of CER funding opportunities and potential collaborations can join this email list. In addition, updates on funding opportunities and helpful resources such as a Methods Guide for Comparative Effectiveness Reviews’ can be found at the CTSI website.