The CRN welcomes opportunities to collaborate with colleagues across the CRN, the Health Care Systems Research Network, and other research institutions to address high priority areas of cancer research. Successful collaborations may include the sharing of resources and ideas, publication of manuscripts, development of research proposals and work on successfully-funded grants, to develop research careers that focus on population sciences research that can be conducted in the CRN setting, and ongoing engagement in research collaborations. CRN investigators have a well-established history of collaborating with investigators at the NCI, NCI-designated cancer centers, academic institutions such as schools of public health, nursing, or medicine, and other research consortia and networks.
Following are the different ways the CRN encourages participation.
Initiating Collaboration with the CRN
If you are interested in learning more about how to collaborate with the CRN and/or would like to initiate research involvement, please review our Collaboration Process and complete an Inquiry Form. It is not necessary to include a project proposal when you complete the Inquiry Form. However, there is space to include specific details about a proposed project if you wish to include this information. Inquiries will be directed to the CRN Administrative Core/Coordinating Center for administrative review. A CRN representative will respond to the inquiry and work with the Requestor to determine the best way forward.
Scientific Working Groups
The CRN has identified four research areas in which the CRN Setting provides distinct benefits for conducting research – Prevention & Screening, Epidemiology of Prognosis & Outcomes, Health Care Quality & Cost, and Communication & Dissemination. Four Scientific Working Groups have been created to promote discussions and facilitate research these areas. Further information about these Scientific Working Groups, including how to join one of them, can be found here.
The CRN Scholars Program
The CRN Scholars program provides mentoring and nominal FTE support for junior investigators to gain training and experience in the conduct of research in the CRN Setting. The program provides direct mentoring through regular educational and other mentoring activities, including semi-annual in-person meetings, to create a community of scholars who can learn from each other and from the scientists and data resources of the CRN. Further information about the CRN Scholars program can be found here.
Pilot Projects & Developmental Projects Program
The CRN has historically supported a Pilot & Developmental Projects program with the objective that these activities will lead to further research addressing issues that can decrease the burden of cancer. Further information about the CRN Pilot & Developmental Projects Program as well as other CRN funding opportunities can be found here.
Accessing Datasets from prior CRN Studies
The CRN has collected information about the availability of cancer-related datasets, from projects that were funded or enabled by the CRN, for use by other investigators. The goal is to facilitate the conduct of additional research (e.g. by National Cancer Institute fellows, CRN Scholars, early-stage career investigators) and publication of findings using these existing data. Please see the Scientific & Data Resources page for more information.
Principles of Collaboration
The CRN has developed general principles to help both internal and external investigators navigate the process of collaborative research and to maximize the benefit of these collaborations for all parties.
- The CRN promotes research collaborations that result in scientific, public-domain, peer-reviewed manuscripts, with the long-term goal of decreasing the cancer burden. The CRN does not conduct proprietary research.
- CRN-based research projects benefit from involvement of CRN investigators from the outset, to ensure the development and formulation of research questions and study procedures that are feasible, meaningful, and consistent with the principle of respect for study participants. Studies for which the CRN is mainly a source of data, biospecimens, or study participants, and with minimal input from scientists at CRN research centers are discouraged. The CRN Outreach & Collaborations Core and Scientific Working Groups will facilitate the identification of a CRN scientist early in proposal development to work with external scientists who initiate collaboration queries.
- Research projects often benefit from involvement of health plan leaders who are involved in the delivery of care or operations oversight and management. CRN internal investigators are uniquely positioned to identify and facilitate the collaboration of health care system leaders who are not primarily researchers themselves.
- An outstanding and singular benefit of CRN research is its setting in integrated health care delivery systems, and access to their comprehensive clinical and administrative data. These have been extracted into VDW data tables to facilitate collaborative research across CRN Sites. Leveraging these data in a cost-efficient manner to investigate critical issues in cancer research is a main CRN focus. However, these are not public-domain data, and do not belong to CRN scientists or affiliated research groups. CRN investigators must act as stewards of VDW and other health plan data, ensuring protection of patient privacy.
- Agreements for sharing data in research collaborations must be explicit and consider factors such as whether, under what circumstances, and how data will be shared. We employ strategies that protect patient and plan identity, while maximizing the utilization of data for current and future research.
- All research involving human subjects requires appropriate Institutional Review Board (IRB) review and approval before starting research activities. The CRN encourages the use of streamlined IRB procedures when appropriate. Although we will uphold the principle that each CRN Site has the autonomy to determine whether its own IRB approval is needed for a research project (which is necessary for studies with active data collection from health plan members, and may be necessary for data-only studies), we have procedures to facilitate ceding IRB oversight to a lead CRN institution’s IRB. This includes use of a common IRB application for an initial request to cede that has been approved by all Kaiser Permanente and most other CRN institution IRBs.
- Collaborations facilitated by the CRN operate under an "opt-in" model, wherein no CRN Site participates without a willing and interested investigator at the site.
Additional Resources to Ensure a Productive Collaboration
- The CRN provides guidance for publications that result from the use of CRN data and scientific resources. The Guidelines for Publications page includes language for CRN description and goals, as well as accurate naming of research centers and health plans.
- CRN Authorship & the NIH Public Access Policy