The Methodology/Data Management Core has been critically important to the success of the Northwestern University (NU) Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center (MCRC). The centralized availability of expertise in study design, database and study form development, data monitoring, data entry and retrieval, and the various methodologic approaches and analytic techniques used to evaluate and test hypotheses are essential resources for established and new investigators alike. Recognizing that newer analytic and statistical methods have become available and more accepted in the medical literature, the Methodology/Data Management Core continues the expansion of its previous work in clinical epidemiology and health services research. Given this Center's emphasis on longitudinal observational research studies, investigators with expertise in modern advanced statistical methodology [e.g., generalized estimating equations (GEE), discrete Cox regression analysis, meta-analysis, and classification and regression trees (CART)], economics, decision analysis, clinical epidemiology, behavioral science, and genomics are included as Core investigators. New expertise in patient reported outcome measures, diet and physical activity measurement, and biomedical informatics is now included. The Core supports all funded MCRC projects as well as other funded activities. It continues to contribute to the MCRC research environment by providing methodologic collaboration, data management expertise and resources, and education to investigators who engage in research involving the rheumatic diseases.
The Methodology/Data Management Core provides essential methodological, educational, data integrity, and data security functions for all MCRC projects. It is well-matched to the specific research needs of each project and includes several unique elements (e.g., medical informatics, patient reported outcomes, diet and physical activity measurement) that MCRC projects emphasize. The processes to maintain data integrity and development of data safety monitoring plans for the projects supported by the MCRC are led by Core investigators.
In addition, this Core continues to serve the rheumatic disease research community more broadly by providing an environment that encourages collaboration between Core methodologists and staff and MCRC-affiliated faculty and trainees on every clinical, epidemiologic, and health services rheumatic disease research project proposed and implemented at NU. Through its active relationships with the NU Feinberg School of Medicine’s (FSM) Departments of Preventive Medicine, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Medical Social Sciences, the Institute for Public Health and Medicine, and the NU Clinical and Translational Sciences (NUCATS) Institute, this Core is able to draw on the relevant talent and expertise of a diverse University community, not only to help solve the research challenges of projects pertaining to a variety of rheumatologic conditions of interest to NIAMS (e.g., osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma), but also to promote and sustain interdisciplinary team research in these fields.
The Core is led by a seasoned rheumatologist/epidemiologist/health services researcher and includes both senior and junior faculty methodologists as well as experienced statistical analysts and database/computer specialists. Core operational procedures to maximize cost-effectiveness and educational offerings have evolved over the more than 27 years that Northwestern has had a NIAMS P60.
Meet the researchers who participate in the Methodology and Data Management Core