UW News

October 5, 2010

UW researchers land $24 million in patient-centered research grants

Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) announced on Sept. 30 the award of $473 million in grants and contracts to support projects that will help people make health-care decisions based on the best evidence of effectiveness. The funding announced covers all of AHRQ’s allocation and $173 million administered for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary by AHRQ.

Projects and grants based at the University of Washington include:

• Treatment of cardiovascular risk factors among HIV-infected patients, $416,377 to Dr. Heidi Crane, UW assistant professor of medicine

• Clinical scientist career development program in collaboration with Group Health Research Institute, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Veterans’ Administration Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, $2.45 million to Dr. Sean Sullivan, professor of pharmacy and health services, Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research & Policy Program

Low back pain interventions in the elderly, $9.9 million to Dr. Jeffrey Jarvik, UW professor of radiology and neurosurgery and adjunct professor of health services, director of the Comparative Effectiveness, Cost and Outcomes Research Center

• Washington state hospitals comparative effectiveness research network through SCOAP (Surgical Care and Outcomes Assessment Program), $11.7 million for Dr. David Flum, UW professor of surgery and adjunct professor of public health, Surgical Outcomes Research Center 

All of the grants referenced above have a public health relevance. Dr. Sullivan’s grant will provide enhanced training for researchers interested in comparative effectiveness.

Dr. Crane’s funding will explore optimal care for HIV-infected patients, evaluating the comparative effectiveness of lipid-lowering and antihypertensive medications among HIV-infected individuals.

Dr. Jarvik’s research team will study low back pain diagnosis and treatment in the elderly, one of the most important causes of functional limitation and disability, and an Institute of Medicine priority condition.

Initial projects will include an observational study of the impact of early diagnostic imaging and a randomized controlled trial of epidural steroid injections for spinal stenosis. (Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of one or more areas in the spine. It is commonly caused by age-related changes in the spine.) The researchers will recruit patients from the HMO Research Network and build an infrastructure to continue studying new questions about back pain in the elderly well into the future.

Dr. Flum’s surgery-related grant is for SCOAP, the Surgical Care and Outcomes Assessment Program in Washington state. Flum serves as SCOAP’s medical director and will lead the effort to improve SCOAP patient registries to track outcomes and to measure quality and performance of surgical care across the state. Microsoft Health Solutions is making an in-kind contribution for this project, aimed at improving methods for capturing clinical and patient information across 57 Washington state hospitals. The enhanced registry will be used for a statewide study comparing surgical, interventional and behavioral treatment strategies for peripheral arterial disease. (Peripheral arterial disease occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs and limbs.

The UW has housed some of the nation’s foremost scientists in comparative effectiveness research for years. Until recently, these researchers were largely working independently in individual units and centers across campus. But that all changed in November 2009, when several centers came together to form the UW Centers for Comparative and Health Systems Effectiveness (CHASE) Alliance.

Drs. Sullivan, Jarvik and Flum are founding leaders of the UW CHASE Alliance. The UW Chase Alliance regularly holds seminars and events related to its research projects and work with its research partners. Visit the CHASE website for more details and the latest news.