Overview & Organization of the CRN


First funded in 1999, the Cancer Research Network (CRN) is a consortium of research groups affiliated with non-profit integrated health care delivery systems. It has been supported by the National Cancer Institute through a U19 cooperative agreement to support cancer research in the integrated health care settings of collaborating, not-for-profit HMOs.

In September 2012, the CRN was renewed successfully as a U24 research resources cooperative agreement, its fourth NCI-supported grant cycle. The CRN continues its emphasis on promotion and facilitation of cancer research in integrated health care settings. There is renewed emphasis on promoting collaborative research that takes advantage of the CRN setting to conduct innovative cancer research. The presence of a substantial number of cancer researchers and mature research organizations, unparalleled clinical data systems, defined member populations, and integrated health care system settings underscore the unique position of the CRN to be a leader in translational population sciences research.

Who is the CRN?

The CRN supports data development and research infrastructure at 9 participating institutions, or CRN Sites. Overall, these organizations provide health care for close to 9 million members. In addition, it supports collaborating investigators at 8 institutions. Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Division of Research is the lead site and Coordinating Center for the CRN. View a map of current participating sites and institutions.

The CRN is led by a Steering Committee that consists of the Site Principal Investigators, the scientific leaders of the various organizational activities of the CRN (described further below), and NCI personnel. An Executive Committee, including four scientists with complementary research interests and the NCI's CRN Project Scientist, provides overall direction to the CRN.

The Executive Committee includes Lawrence H. Kushi, ScD, a cancer and nutritional epidemiologist at the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, who is also the CRN Principal Investigator; Mark Hornbrook, PhD, a health services researcher at the Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Northwest; Kathleen Mazor, EdD, whose research focuses on health communications and is at the Meyers Primary Care Institute and University of Massachusetts Medical School; Diana Miglioretti, Sc.D., a biostatistician from the Group Health Research Institute and University of California at Davis; and Paul Doria-Rose, DVM, PhD, with a background in epidemiology and health services research and the CRN Project Scientist at the NCI.

The CRN and its operations also receives advice from a Scientific Advisory Board, consisting of scientists from leading institutions across the U.S. and Canada, and a Clinical and Operations Advisory Board, consisting of clinical and health plan leaders from participating CRN Sites.

CRN Activities

Scientific Working Groups
The CRN promotes cancer research with a particular focus in four broad areas that cover the spectrum of population sciences cancer research. The Scientific Working Groups (SWGs) have been established to promote, discuss and shape research ideas and initiatives in each of these areas. Each SWG is led by researchers at CRN Sites and at collaborating institutions. The SWG areas are:
  • Prevention & Screening
  • Epidemiology of Prognosis & Outcomes
  • Health Care Quality & Cost
  • Communications & Dissemination
Continued support for data resources and enhancement of informatics capabilities is conducted through an Informatics Core.
Outreach and Collaborations
An Outreach & Collaborations Core supports the development and implementation of strategic approaches to promote research collaborations across CRN institutions, with non-CRN research organizations, and with clinical and operations partners in CRN health care organizations. It works closely with other CRN Scientific Working Groups and Programs in these activities.
Training and Career Development
A Training & Career Development Program, commonly referred to as the "CRN Scholars Program", is a key activity of the CRN. Unlike other training programs that support most or all of the salary of a small number of pre-doctoral or post-doctoral fellows, the CRN Scholars Program is designed to support 20% FTE of several young investigators in a multi-institutional, two-year career development and mentoring program.
Developmental & Pilot Projects Program
The CRN also supports a Developmental & Pilot Projects Program that provides approximately $400,000 per year to support several Pilot Projects. Applicants for both the CRN Scholars Program and pilot projects support will be accepted from investigators at any research institution, but must support research that is conducted within the CRN setting.
Other Activities
The CRN has established several working committees to facilitate its work. These include committees that establish guidelines for publications that result from CRN facilitation, that guide communication about the CRN in various settings, and that conduct evaluation of key components of CRN progress.

CRN Organizational Chart

Graphic of the CRN organizational chart
Full-sized image | Text description

For institutional abbreviations, please see the list of Participating Sites.