Research Networks

From our earliest days, CHR has been dedicated to collaboration with research partners across the country. By participating in research networks, we can examine questions that are hard for any single research organization to answer alone.

Research networks also help us respond to the federal government’s call to make data more accessible and to promote data sharing across different health care settings. Insurers, health plans, and academic institutions increasingly need to work together to ensure that their data systems are compatible.

Sharing large amounts of data across different systems requires taking precautions to protect patients’ privacy. We must also ensure that data sets from different institutions are aligned. We have solved these challenges by merging data using a Virtual Data Warehouse (VDW). In the VDW, database experts at each institution align their information through a standard “data dictionary” that is common to all the sites. Then, when researchers want to ask questions, they query each database in its home setting and merge the results with those found in other settings. Only the answers move, not the source data. The VDW protects privacy and data security while allowing researchers to access extremely large virtual datasets.

Featured Networks

Health Care Systems Research Network
(formerly HMO Research Network)

Our collaborations often involve other Kaiser Permanente regions and HMOs that share our commitment to public health research. In 1995, we formed the HMO Research Network with our closest HMO peers. That productive research partnership, now called the Health Care Systems Research Network (HCSRN), has grown to encompass 18 health care delivery organizations and is recognized as the nation’s premier source of population-based research. The HCSRN’s mission is to improve individual and population health through research that connects the resources and capabilities of learning health care systems.

HCSRN Website

Centers for Education & Research on Therapeutics

The Center for Health Research serves as the Scientific Forum of the Centers for Education & Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) network. The CERTs network was established in 1999 to conduct research and provide education that advances the optimal use of drugs, medical devices, and biological products, collectively called therapeutics. As a key part of the Effective Healthcare Program of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, CERTs draws together six research centers nationwide and funds their important work. Our role is to support the work of the CERTs steering committee and help disseminate the program’s findings.

CERTs Network Website


Stephen Fortmann, MD
Site Principal Investigator

Community Health Applied Research Network

The Community Health Applied Research Network (CHARN) is a unique network of community health centers and universities that was established to conduct patient-centered outcomes research among underserved populations. It represents the first time that such a large and diverse group of community health centers has come together in this context. The Center for Health Research serves as CHARN’s data coordinating center, under the leadership of Senior Investigator Mary Ann McBurnie. Dr. McBurnie played a key role in establishing the infrastructure for CHARN to carry out comparative effectiveness research in community health centers.

CHARN Website


Mary Ann McBurnie, PhD
Site Principal Investigator

Cancer Research Network

Funded by the National Cancer Institute in 1999, the Cancer Research Network supports and facilitates cancer research based in nine non-profit integrated health care delivery systems that collectively cover 10 million individuals. Projects focus on improving knowledge about cancer, screening, early detection, treatment, prognosis, and survivorship, as well as decreasing the burden of disease across the cancer care spectrum.

Cancer Research Network Website

The Center for Effectiveness and Safety Research (CESR)—Virtual Data Warehouse

The Center for Effectiveness and Safety Research brings together researchers across seven Kaiser Permanente regions to collaborate on investigations of the safety and comparative effectiveness of drugs, devices, biological products, and care delivery. This work is made possible by our Virtual Data Warehouse, which allows our researchers to investigate both rare events and population-level health issues. CESR is playing a key role in important national efforts such as the National Institutes of Health Research Collaboratory, the FDA’s Medication Exposure in Pregnancy Risk Evaluation Program, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

CESR website

National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network

The Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) brings together numerous care delivery systems—along with their data assets—with the goal of improving the nation’s capacity to conduct comparative effectiveness research. As part of this infrastructure, CHR serves as the data coordinating center for the Patient Outcomes Research to Advance Learning (PORTAL) network, which consists of Kaiser Permanente, Group Health Cooperative, HealthPartners, Denver Health, and their 11 affiliated research centers. PORTAL conducts research in partnership with patients, about the issues that matter most to them. We are also the data coordinating center for PCORnet’s Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patient-Powered Research Network.

PCORnet website


Richard A. Mularski, MD
Co-Principal Investigator, COPD PPRN

Other Notable Networks

  • Surveillance, Prevention, and Management of Diabetes Mellitus (SUPREME-DM; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Greg Nichols, PhD, Principal Investigator)
  • Cardiovascular Research Network (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; David Smith, PhD, Principal Investigator)
  • Mental Health Research Network (National Institute of Mental Health; Frances Lynch, PhD, Principal Investigator)

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