Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) Resources

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 information about and 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 CER definitions from other major organizations

Consultation Pathway for CER

UCSF investigators may be eligible to receive up to 6 free hours of consultation to support the development of proposals for Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) funding.

To get started, send a brief description of your proposal to Mike Steinman, MD
Mike will call to discuss your eligibility for free consultation and provide advice on which services would be most beneficial, as well as general guidance on applying for PCORI funding.

Consultation Opportunities Related to CER

Investigators who are not eligible for the expanded suite of no-cost consultations have access to these resources via the standard one hour free consultation with additional hours charged per the Consultation Services Recharge Policy.

  • Community-Engaged Research
    • Stakeholder engagement: A key criterion by which applications to PCORI are judged is the level of stakeholder engagement with the proposed project, including the active participation of stakeholders in developing the proposal.
    • Recruitment of study subjects: Connect with community-based clinicians and clinics interested in participating in research.
  • Participant Recruitment & Study Management — Access a variety of services to support identification and recruitment of study subjects as well as project management and regulatory support.
  • Biostatistics — Biostatistical issues that often rise in CER studies include causal inference models.
  • Study Design — Issues include design of pragmatic clinical trials, adaptive trial designs, and design of studies using secondary data analysis approaches.
  • Working with Large Datasets — Find expertise in and access to high-value datasets for Comparative Effectiveness Research.

See all CTSI Consultation Services

The consultation pathway for CER may also include these services:

  • Exercise and Body Composition LaboratoryPatient-centered outcomes are outcomes that are perceived as directly important to patients. For example, quality of life and ability to work or walk two blocks may be more important to patients than their LDL cholesterol or interleukin levels. While patient-centered outcomes will vary between studies, a common, important patient-centered outcome is physical function. The Exercise and Body Composition Laboratory provides resources and training for investigators interested in employing functional measures in their studies.
  • Cancer CenterKathryn Phillips, PhD directs a program to help investigators interested in CER related to cancer.
  • The San Francisco Coordinating Center provides infrastructure support for multicenter studies and clinical trials.
  • The San Francisco Branch or the United States Cochrane Center supports the development of systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Additional UCSF Services

How to Write a PCORI Grant

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.

PCORI Proposal Library

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

Comparative Effectiveness Large Datasets

A database inventory of over 80 local and national health datasets searchable by domain, population, time frame, study design, and unit of observation supports investigators interested in assessing comparative effectiveness of clinical and other interventions.

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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UCSF Courses and Presentations


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 presentations of UCSF symposia and lectures by UCSF faculty:

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External Resources

Funding Opportunities

PCORI - what is it and what will it fund?

The Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), a quasi-governmental organization, was created by Congress to support CER through grants and other funding opportunities. As of September 2011, it is just getting underway, and its priorities and funding procedures have yet to be announced. By 2014, it is expected to have an annual budget of $500 million and be the major source of funding for CER in the United States.

An overview of PCORI's legislative mandate and duties can be found here: Overview of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Training and References

Resource guides and best practices

Conducting Pubmed searches for CER

  • The National Library of Medicine has created search tools and other resources to support literature searches for CER.

Other resources

Compendia of resources and programs:

Collaborations, research centers, and research networks:

Data sources:

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