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DCR provides a variety of consultations and services to assist investigators and staff with specific projects. All consultations are free.
Biological Biomarker Consultation Unit
The broad goal of the Biological Biomarker Consultation (BBC) Unit is to provide consultations to investigators interested in the adoption of biological biomarkers in their studies and to constitute a consortium of experts in biological biomarkers within Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Mass General Brigham (MGB).

The Unit’s specific approaches to meeting this goal include:
  • Identifying experts in biological biomarker research and their clinical applications within MGH, MGB and beyond and constituting a consortium of such experts.
  • Assessing the needs from both researchers and clinicians regarding the development and use of biological biomarkers.
  • Providing information about the resources for biological biomarker studies upon requests and encouraging collaborations with biological biomarker experts locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Advancing the research and clinical utilization of biological biomarkers at MGH and MGB.
Comparative Effectiveness Unit
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The Division of Clinical Research’s Comparative Effectiveness Research Unit supports researchers that seek to improve the clinical practice of medicine and population health. The Division of Clinical Research’s Comparative Effectiveness Research Unit

(CERU) has two main objectives:
  1. To support clinical research aimed to improve the clinical practice of medicine and population health;
  2. To provide mentorship and advice to those seeking academic research careers in clinical epidemiology and effectiveness
    The CERU focuses specifically on the “Second Translational Block” that exists between clinical trial and other research results and the implementation of their advances to improve clinical practice and public health.
The principal activity of the CERU has been research mentoring for Mass General trainees and faculty at all levels. We provide advice and support for research that addresses a spectrum of approaches and topics from disease pathogenesis to the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of health care delivery and delivery systems.

Our clinical effectiveness consultations foster careers of junior faculty and support hypothesis-driven research, including operational evaluations that improve patient outcomes through changes in systemic, patient and provider behavior.
Drug Discovery Rounds Unit
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Drug Discovery Rounds provide opportunities for meetings between our investigators and leaders in the pharma and biotech world.Via its Drug Discovery Rounds, the Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Clinical Research provides the opportunity for individual meetings between investigators at Mass General and leaders in the pharma and biotech world.

During these face-to-face meetings, a clinical investigator and/or a fundamental science investigator from Mass General will brainstorm about drug discovery opportunities in their field of interest with key advisors in pharma and biotech.

Topics may include how to approach companies, what companies are looking for and conceptual advice about working with pharma and biotech.
Global Health Research Unit
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The Global Health Research Unit offers consultations on the conduct of global health research, and sponsors seminars on general principles for global health research.The Global Health Research Unit (GHRU) consists of junior and senior global health investigators along with their research teams. Studies are being conducted in multiple parts of the world with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Research is generally cross-disciplinary and reflects several clinical fields, such as internal medicine, infectious diseases, psychiatry, and behavioral science. Research methods are both quantitative and qualitative.

Funding experience includes the US National Institutes of Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, other foundations, USAID, and philanthropic support. The GHRU also includes experts in grants administration and management.
Imaging Biomarkers Unit
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The Imaging Biomarkers Unit in the Division of Clinical Research at Massachusetts General Hospital provides consultations to help clinical and fundamental investigators identify questions in their research that can be answered by using imaging technologies.

The unit then helps to connect investigators to resources (personnel and technological) within Mass General and the Partners HealthCare System.
Information Technology Unit
The Information Technology Unit at the Division of Clinical Research supports the increasing information technology needs of Massachusetts General Hospital’s clinical and fundamental investigative community.

The broad goal of the Information Technology Unit (ITU) is to support the increasing information technology needs of the Massachusetts General Hospital research community.

The Unit’s specific approaches to meeting this goal have been:
  • Improving existing information management resources, while creating a broad, new information management infrastructure to support the work of the clinical research community at Mass General and Partners HealthCare
  • Providing IT management support for Mass General clinical investigators, including assisting in the recruitment of study subjects and supporting the Division of Clinical Research’s (DCR’s) educational initiatives
  • Establishing ongoing partnerships with clinical researchers to pilot applications and studies with new clinical informatics-based interventions that will create reusable technology platforms
  • Envisioning and creating transformative informatics and IT solutions for the clinical research community and beyond
The DCR’s informatics tools help investigators identify potential study subjects, navigate the patient registry system and find relevant information to support the execution of clinical research studies.
K Consultation & Mentoring Corner Unit
The DCR offers assistance for mentees and mentors. Consultations are available, for example, to assist mentees in identifying appropriate mentors, and to provide mentorship tools.
Omics Unit
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The Omics Unit in the Division of Clinical Research assists investigators in genetic and genomic study design and execution.The missions of the Division of Clinical Research’s Omics Unit are threefold:
  • Provide consultative support to clinical and fundamental investigators initiating or planning genetic and genomic studies at Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Support investigators already performing such studies through educational programs and process improvements
  • Serve as a link between the Mass General clinical research community and the educational and technological platforms in Omics research of the Partners HealthCare System and the greater Harvard medical community
As genomic medicine becomes a reality, the Omics Unit continues to make significant progress in arming Mass General clinical research teams with the knowledge and tools needed to incorporate or expand genomic and other omics in their clinical research studies.

Omics consultations from the Division of Clinical Research are designed to assist investigators in genetic study design and execution, human subject protection, career advice and resource identification.

A newer emphasis of the unit has been on emerging technologies for metabolomic and proteomic profiling of human samples, with the goal of optimizing sample throughput, cost and breadth of analytical coverage.

Requests are triaged by the Omics Unit and assigned to specific consultants depending on expertise and availability.
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Unit
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The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Unit facilitates clinical research that addresses the comparative effectiveness of different healthcare options from the perspective of patient outcomes.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) Unit of the Division of Clinical Research (DCR) was established to address the research needs and funding opportunities provided by the creation of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

Research supported by PCORI has three major components:
  1. It tests the comparative effectiveness of a range of healthcare interventions, including treatments, diagnostic tests, and system-level strategies;
  2. It focuses on outcomes that are experienced and reported by patients; and
  3. Research progresses in a model with substantial stakeholder engagement including input from patients, caregivers and providers.
The PCOR Unit seeks to facilitate research by providing support in each of these domains. Specifically, the PCOR Unit advances work through four complimentary strategies:
  • Working with the DCR Education Unit to host a series of educational seminars and workshops to prepare investigators to submit PCORI applications.
  • Providing project specific consultative services through review of investigator-initiated proposals in the pre-award phase.
  • Supporting the expansion and evaluation of methods for collecting patient reported outcome measures, specifically as routine components in clinical care settings.
  • Establishing best practices for patient and community engagement strategies and disseminating these resources to investigators. The DCR’s PCOR services provide educational programming, proposal preparation consultations, outcome measures support and stakeholder engagement assistance to help investigators who are navigating the waters of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute or conducting PCOR studies.
Philanthropy Education Unit
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The Philanthropy Education Unit coordinates meetings between past and present investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital to brainstorm the best ways to raise philanthropic support for clinical research projects.

Via its Philanthropy Education Unit, the Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Clinical Research provides the opportunity for individual meetings between investigators and leaders—past and present—at Mass General. During these face-to-face meetings, investigators will brainstorm about how to raise philanthropic support for their research with key advisors in the fields.
Qualitative & Mixed Methods Research Unit
Qualitative and mixed methods research helps investigators study the “why” and “how” of questions related to healthcare and biomedicine. The Division of Clinical Research’s Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research Unit provides consultations, courses, a monthly working group, and a repository of resources to support investigators with qualitative and mixed methods study design and execution. These services are offered only to MGH faculty and staff. Please note that the QMMR Unit does not provide access to qualitative research software.

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The QMMR Unit’s consultations advise investigators on qualitative and mixed methods research, including study design, data collection, data coding, analysis and interpretation, dissemination of results, and the development of research proposals and protocols. Requests are triaged and assigned to consultants depending on expertise and availability.

Upcoming Courses

The QMMR Unit leads an annual four-session overview of qualitative and mixed methods research, as well as monthly single-session classes on a range of advanced topics such as consensus methods, cognitive interviewing, content analysis, interviews/focus groups, data coding, data interpretation and presentation, and the use of qualitative research software.

Qualitative Research Working Group

The QMMR Unit hosts a monthly meeting for MGH investigators (fellows and faculty) who are planning or conducting qualitative and mixed methods research and are interested in learning from others. The group provides a highly interactive community for discussing and obtaining feedback on qualitative research works-in-preparation and works-in-progress. The group commonly discusses issues related to study design, data collection, coding, analyses, interpretation, and publication. This meeting occurs on the first Thursday of each month from 4-5pm via Zoom.

Resource Repository

To support and supplement the QMMR Unit’s services, our Unit investigators have developed a growing repository of resources, including brief tip sheets, published articles, and example documents.
Research Ethics Consultation Unit
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Our mission is to assist Mass General investigators in considering and resolving ethical and IRB review issues and to work to improve the quality of IRB submissions.

Consultation Service
  • Guidance in planning and conducting human subjects research
  • Assistance before, during and after regulatory review to address issues and discuss practical solutions
Examples of Service:
  • The consent process
  • Appropriate and effective recruitment plans
  • Confidentiality or handling sensitive information
  • Disclosure of findings or results
  • Enrollment of vulnerable subjects
  • Using the Mass General Brigham QI checklist and delineating care/research activities
  • IRB review of survey/interview methods
  • Digital health/social Media uses
  • Risk/benefit assessment and study design (e.g. mitigating risks)
  • Best practices in IRB applications, communications and responses to review
Education and Other Activities:
  • Work with DCR’s Center for Clinical Research Education to supplement curriculum with offerings related to bioethics and pragmatic advice
  • Liaison with IRB to stay up to date on new policies and procedures and to share investigator needs.
Study Hypothesis & Design Unit
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The DCR’s Study Design and Implementation consultations provide support for new clinical research studies and research networks, as well as resubmissions of federal grants.

Consultations assist junior faculty in preparing new Career Development (K) grant applications, and support current K award recipients applying for independent funding.
Survey Research Unit
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The Survey Research Unit provides expertise in all aspects of survey design, implementation, analysis and reporting.

The Survey Research Program in the Division of Clinical Research at Massachusetts General Hospital provides consultation and training in survey methods to gather high quality, high value data from diverse patient and professional populations. Program leaders have demonstrated expertise in the use of surveys for health and clinical practice as well as health policy and have collaborated widely with leaders, programs and investigators.

This program provides consultations to leaders and investigators on survey design and development, sampling strategies, data collection and response rate enhancement, provides survey consultations and advice for all aspects of study design, execution and interpretation of survey data. Program faculty and staff have led hundreds of surveys in local, regional, national and international contexts, including surveys with patients and health professionals in more than 20 different languages.

Types of Consultation:
  1. Proposal Development
  2. Sample Design and Sources
  3. Questionnaire Development
  4. Questionnaire Review and Training
  5. Interviewer Training
  6. Survey Translation
  7. Data Collection Methods
  8. Response Rate Calculation
  9. Data Quality
  10. IRB Submission and Review
  11. Data Analysis Strategies
  12. Reporting Survey Data
Trial Innovation Unit
The aim of the Trial Innovation Unit is to provide support and guidance to investigators in the start-up phase of clinical studies.

  • Help get clinical research projects started
  • Leverage existing space and resources of the Mass General clinical research infrastructure
  • Target junior faculty and fellows, or senior faculty without access to infrastructure support
  • Provide training/education for clinical research workforce