Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) Resources

What Is CER?

Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) seeks to determine which medical interventions and strategies work best, for whom, and under what circumstances. See more definitions of CER

Most definitions of CER involve not only comparing two or more active interventions, but also

  • conducting these assessments in settings with real-world significance
  • evaluating for heterogeneity of intervention effects across different subgroups of patients
  • focusing on perspectives of different stakeholders, with a particular emphasis on patient-centered outcomes.

See PCORI’s definition of CER and of Patient Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR).

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CTSI/RDO Consultation Services for CER


A variety of consultative services relevant to CER and PCORI applications are available through the UCSF CTSI's Consultation Service Program and the RDO's Large Grant Development Program.

To get started, send a brief description of your proposal to Kristin Dolan, PhD — Kristin will call to provide advice on which services would be most beneficial, as well as general guidance on applying for PCORI funding.

Comparative Effectiveness Large Dataset Analysis

For advice on working with Large Datasets, request a Data Extraction and Management Consultation.

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UCSF Educational Programs

Educational offerings at UCSF include online courses and webinars on CER and PCORI, courses in the UCSF Training in Clinical Research Program, and archived presentations of symposia and lectures given by UCSF faculty.

Online Courses and Webinars

How to Write a PCORI Grant is a free online mini-course on key elements of applying for PCORI funding — faculty, trainees, and staff at UCSF, the Kaiser Permanente Department of Research, Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, or Children's Hospital Oakland are welcome to participate.

Getting Your PCORI Grant Funded: Advice from Insiders is a webinar that provided high-value advice on strategies for maximizing your chance of funding success.

Training in Clinical Research (TICR) Courses

The UCSF Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistcis provides a wide range of courses relevant to CER including clinical trials, epidemiology, systematic reviews, and biostatistics. Courses of particular relevance include:

Archived Symposia and Presentations

Access a wide variety of presentations and slide sets on topics in CER and PCORI. These include material from UCSF’s Annual Symposium on CER, with talks by PCORI leaders and UCSF and other Bay Area faculty who are experts in CER and PCORI.

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Other UCSF Resources

PCORI Proposal Library

Learn by example — view examples of successful UCSF proposals generously provided by members of the UCSF community (UCSF access only).

Community-Engaged Research

CER in Cancer Research

Comparative Effectiveness Large Datasets

The Comparative Effectiveness Large Dataset Analysis Core (CELDAC) has developed a database inventory of over 80 local and national health datasets. CELDAC leaders support investigators interested in assessing comparative effectiveness of clinical and other interventions.

OptumLabs Data Warehouse (OLDW)

UCoP has partnered with OptumLabs, a collaborative center for research and innovation, to provide access to 160 million de-identified records across claims and clinical information to conduct investigations on populations and unique subsets within them. Learn more about OLDW

Physical Performance Measures

  • The Exercise and Body Composition Laboratory provides resources and training for investigators interested in employing functional measures in their studies.

Infrastructure Support for Multicenter Studies and Clinical Trials

Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

Other UCSF Resources and Information

  • Steering Committee charged with coordinating and supporting Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) at UCSF
  • In 2011 Michael Steinman was appointed Director of Comparative Effectiveness Research for UCSF's CTSI
  • Needs Assessment for Comparative Effectiveness Research at UCSF, conducted Spring 2011: Survey (pdf 130KB) and Final Report (pdf 220KB)

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External Resources

The Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has an excellent website with information on the types of research it funds, and methodology guides to support the development of high-quality research that is consistent with its mission.

CERTAIN Patient Advisory Network's INSPIRE Research Portal is an online library of resources designed for patients and researchers partnering on patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR).

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