Research by the numbers

What if you could mine the 10 billion medical facts across 6 million (anonymous) patients in five Harvard affiliated hospitals to ask an important and timely question? What are the other diseases or disorders associated with autism? How has the pharmacological treatment of inflammatory diseases changed over the last five years? Are there gender differences in prevalence of the infections in autoimmune diseases? How is the prevalence of diabetes mellitus changing in young adults?

Now, for the first time, if you are an eligible faculty member (or one of their fellows) in one of the five hospitals, you can now productively seek answers to these questions. The Shared Health Research Information Network (SHRINE) helps researchers overcome one of the greatest problems in population-based research: Compiling large groups of well-characterized patients. Eligible investigators may use the SHRINE web-based query tool to determine the aggregate total number of patients at participating hospitals who meet a given set of inclusion and exclusion criteria. The criteria are currently demographics, diagnoses, medications, and selected laboratory values. Because counts are aggregate, patient privacy is protected.

So, whether you are seeking a study cohort, preliminary studies for a grant proposal, or evaluating an epidemiological hypothesis, take this new tool for a spin and start translating this large mass of hard-won data into useful biomedical knowledge.

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