CTSI Blog

Researchers now have a simpler, more effective way to access data from Minnesota death certificate records, with the launch of a new database from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). CTSI will fulfill requests for death certificate record data at no charge to researchers, registries, and transplant databases at the University of Minnesota and Fairview.

The database houses the complete death record issued from 2011 to present (for deaths as recent as two months ago) for deceased individuals who were born in Minnesota, have died in Minnesota, or have ever had a permanent address in the state. CTSI collaborated with the Minnesota Department of Health to create this database, and tested it against University health data repositories to validate accuracy and help maximize its value to investigators.

"Historically, getting access to death records took a lot of time, money, and resources. Plus, it wasn't uncommon for the data itself to be incomplete or outdated, as databases would sometimes exclude records from the past few years," says Russell Luepker, PhD, MD, a member of CTSI's Biomedical Informatics steering committee. "Now, researchers can quickly access up-to-date, accurate death data, with the support of dedicated informatics experts - all at no cost to them."

Researchers request this data simply by filling out an online form, which CTSI uses to generate a customized, cleaned-up dataset that's tailored to an investigator's needs. For example, a researcher could request data only from the death records, which does not require IRB approval. Or, to get a more complete picture, they could request a dataset that combines data from both death records and patient records. Patient data is extracted from CTSI's clinical data repository, which houses the electronic medical records of more than 2 million patients and can be leveraged by University and Fairview researchers at no cost to them.

"Understanding who died, and why is critical to researchers who are looking for better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat health issues," says Bonnie Westra, PhD, RN, Co-chair of CTSI's Architecture and Informatics Committee. "The information provided by death certificate records is valuable to a wide range of research studies, and can be used in a variety of ways, from better understanding health issues to more sensitively recruiting prior patients to join studies without the risk of contacting the families of deceased individuals."

Minnesota death certificates include demographic data, such as an individual's name, gender, social security number, birth date, and date of death, as well as data about the circumstances of their death, such as the cause, site, and any external causes revealed by an autopsy.

Learn more about accessing data for research.

UMN CTSI Research Toolkit.jpgUniversity of Minnesota investigators and their teams have a simpler way to find the resources they need to conduct research, with the launch of the Research Toolkit on the Clinical and Translational Science Institute's (CTSI) enhanced website.

The new online resource houses research tools, templates, information, and guidance developed by a wide range of sources, from University organizations to federal agencies. The Clinical and Translational Science Institute spearheaded and manages the Research Toolkit, and worked with subject matter experts from across the Academic Health Center to curate content.

"We created the Research Toolkit to give health researchers a simpler way to navigate the University research process, and ultimately advance their discoveries," says Connie Delaney, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI, who directs CTSI's Biomedical Informatics function and oversees the Research Toolkit. "This supports CTSI's overarching efforts to create an integrated home for clinical and translational research, and help researchers be more successful."

Users can find what they're looking for by navigating the Research Toolkit's chronological study steps, each of which contains information about the various components of that step in the research process:

  • Get started: Background research, clinical data access, finding collaborators, protocol development, and study feasibility
  • Apply for funding: Funding opportunities, grant writing and submissions, and cost estimates
  • Set up study: Budgeting, building your research team, IRB approvals, regulations, and recruiting research subjects
  • Conduct study: Budget management, billing, ethics, and compliance
  • Close out study: Closeout tasks, manuscript development, publishing, promotions, and dissemination

In addition, users can locate resources via the Research Toolkit's search function or by contacting CTSI's Research Navigator at ctsi@umn.edu or 612.625.CTSI (2874).

"As CTSI's Research Navigator, I am committed to connecting investigators and their teams with expertise, services, and resources that can support their research," says Melissa Hansen, one of the key leads of the Research Toolkit initiative. "With the Research Toolkit, they have another option for finding what they need, when they need it."

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium (PDIC) have announced the inaugural awardees of the Pediatric Medical Device Translational Grant Program.

The new funding program supports the development of pediatric medical devices, with the ultimate goal of improving pediatric patient outcomes and quality of life through technology-driven medical solutions.

The program's partners, CTSI's Office of Discovery and Translation (ODAT) and the Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium (PDIC), will provide the funded investigators with work strategy guidance, frequent feedback, and access to comprehensive internal and external services.

Congratulations to the 2014 grant recipients:

David Polly, MD and Charles Ledonio, MD
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Medical School
Project Title: 3D Rendering of the Thoracic Cage from Plain 2D Radiographs of Scoliosis in Children

Arif Somani, MD
Department of Pediatrics, Medical School
Project Title: Intra-pulmonary Aerosol Generator for Drug Delivery in Intubated Patients

Robert Tranquillo, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Science & Engineering
Project Title: Preclinical Demonstration of Growth Capacity of a Tissue-engineered RVOT Graft

IUHE 2014.jpg
Each year, medical students, the Center for Health Equity, and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute host a three-day program focused on urban health equity for incoming medical students.

This year, the program -- called Introduction to Urban Health Equity (IUHE) -- expanded to include dental students and broke an attendance record. It attracted 70 incoming medical and dental students who are about to start programs at the University of Minnesota's Medical School and School of Dentistry.

Students enjoyed a wide range of presentations, activities, and discussions that included an introductory health equity talk by Jasjit S. Ahluwalia, MD, MPH, a poverty simulation hosted by 20 volunteers, neighborhood clinic tours, and cultural round robin discussions.

Dr. Ahluwalia, who is the faculty sponsor for IUHE, the Director of the Center for Health Equity, and Associate Director of CTSI said:

"The energy in the room is palpable. These students, who chose to attend this optional experience, will be our nation's leaders for solving the challenging problems of health equity."

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has awarded funds to support 15 research projects that will be conducted by U of M investigators and their collaborators. Funding from three CTSI grant programs will support a wide range of projects, from early-stage, translational research to clinical research to community-engaged research. Congratulations to our newest awardees!

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Translational Grant Program
This funding program helps drive the highest quality early stage translational research through the complex process of translating basic science discoveries into patient benefit. The overarching goal is to positively impact human health in Minnesota and the nation. Following are the program's 2014 awardees:

Conrado Aparicio, PhD, School of Dentistry
Project Title: GL13K Antimicrobial Peptide Coatings with Strong Resistance to Degradation and Sustained Activity for Preventing Dental Peri-implant Infection

Shai Ashkenazi, PhD, College of Science & Engineering
Project Title: Depth-resolved Tissue Oxygen Needle Sensor

Arthur Erdman, PhD, College of Science & Engineering
Project Title: Acoustic Modulation of the Phrenic Nerve for Treatment of Ventilator Induced Diaphragmatic Dysfunction

Benjamin Hackel, PhD, College of Science & Engineering
Project Title: Molecular PET Imaging of MET with Small Protein Ligands

Alexander Khoruts, MD, Medical School
Project Title: Development of Immunoregulatory Microbiota to Suppress Gut Inflammation

Jayanth Panyam, PhD, College of Pharmacy
Project Title: A Novel Marker for Isolation and Characterization of Circulating Tumor Cells from Patients with Metastatic Cancer

Srinand Sreevatsan, BVSc, MVSc, MPH, PhD, College of Veterinary Medicine
Project Title: Point-of-care Detection and Monitoring System for Tuberculosis

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Research Services Pilot Funding Program
This funding program supports focused clinical research pilot projects and is designed to poise U of M researchers for future success. Funded investigators can access a wide range of services for planning, implementing, conducting, and analyzing studies, from consultations and support to clinical facilities, staff, and procedures. The program's newest awardees are:

Peter Karachunski, MD, Medical School
Project Title: New Tools Used to Study Effects of Growth Hormone Therapy on Bone Health and Muscle Function in Boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Suma Konety, MD, Medical School
Project Title: Chemotherapy Induced Cardiomyopathy and Associated Genetic Variants

Erin Osterholm, MD, Medical School
Project Title: The Impact of Breast Milk-Acquired Cytomegalovirus Infections on Clinical Outcomes in Premature Infants

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Community Collaborative Grants Program
This funding program supports community-university pilot research projects that address important health issues identified by Minnesota communities. Awards are designed to stimulate high-impact research, while building and sustaining long-term partnerships between U of M researchers and community representatives. The program has awarded funding to the following community-University research teams:

Mary Williams, RN, Everyday Miracles
Katy Kozhimannil, PhD, MPA, School of Public Health
Project Title: Improving Maternal and Child Health by Increasing Doula Support for Diverse Minnesota Women

Teri Verner, RN, DNP, Hennepin County Medical Center
Pamela Jo Johnson, PhD, Academic Health Center
Project Title: Impact of Complementary and Integrative Healthcare on Health and Wellbeing for Adults with Chronic Disease

Angela Lewis-Dmello, MSW, Domestic Abuse Project, Inc.
Lynette Renner, PhD, MSW, School of Social Work
Project Title: Exploring Mental and Behavioral Health Outcomes Among Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence

Joan Cleary, MM, Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance
Elizabeth Rogers, MD, MAS, Medical School
Project Title: The Health Care Home in Supporting Chronic Disease Management: Understanding Team Member Roles and the Integration of Community Health Workers

Kathleen Culhane-Pera, MD, MA, West Side Community Health Services
Robert Straka, PharmD, College of Pharmacy
Project Title: Genomic Guided Assessment of Drug Therapy Effectiveness in Managing Hmong Adults with Hyperuricemia and Gout