Northwestern University Awarded $3.5 Million to Train the Next Generation of Learning-Health-System Researchers

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) today announced $40 million in awards over five years to 11 institutions to support the training of researchers to conduct patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) within learning health systems (LHS).

Northwestern University was among the recipients, with its project entitled, “A Chicago Center of Excellence in Learning Health Systems Research Training (ACCELERAT).”  Abel Kho, MD, ACCELERAT co-principal investigator and Director of Center for Health Information Partnerships (CHIP) within the Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM), says, “Ultimately, change happens through empowered people.  We’re thrilled to partner with AHRQ, PCORI and institutions within the Chicago Area Patient Centered Outcomes Research Network (CAPriCORN) to train the future leaders of our learning health systems.”

Organizations that apply LHS principles aim to improve patient care and health system operations through the systematic generation, adoption, and application of evidence. Clinicians and health system leaders work together to ensure that evidence is updated, disseminated to clinical teams and communicated to patients in ways that support shared decision making. Learning health systems are essential as the health care landscape becomes increasingly characterized by rich sources of information that are available in digital formats, programs and applications.

David Cella, ACCELERAT co-principal investigator and chair of the Feinberg School of Medicine Department of Medical Social Sciences, says, “It’s important to ensure the voice of the patient is central in health care and research. By conducting research embedded within a LHS, we will influence care by applying hard evidence and patient values to improve people’s lives.”

The new LHS Centers of Excellence funded under this initiative will produce the next generation of LHS researchers to conduct PCOR and implement the results to improve quality of care and patient outcomes. Newly trained clinician and research scientists will work within health systems by collaborating with systems’ leaders and conducting studies to address how healthcare organizations can improve patient outcomes.

PCORI and AHRQ announced their collaboration on research to support the training of clinician and research scientists to conduct PCOR within learning health systems. The five-year, $40 million initiative to fund the training of clinician and research scientists will be managed by AHRQ and jointly funded by AHRQ and PCORI.

The LHS Centers of Excellence are:

  • A Chicago Center of Excellence in Learning Health Systems Research Training (ACCELERAT), Northwestern University, Chicago, Ill.
  • CATALyST: Consortium for Applied Training to Advance the Learning Health System with Scholars/Trainees, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Seattle, Wash.
  • Learning Health Systems Mentored Career Development Program, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Learning Health System Scholar Program at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Learning Health System (LITI- PCORLHS), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Leveraging Infrastructure to Train Investigators in Patient-Centered Outcomes Research in the Minnesota Learning Health System Mentored Career Development Program (MN-LHS), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • NW Center of Excellence & K12 in Patient Centered Learning Health Systems Science, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Ore.
  • PEDSnet Scholars: A Training Program for Pediatric Learning Health System Researchers, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Stakeholder-Partnered Implementation Research and Innovation Translation (SPIRIT) program, University of California- Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • The Center of Excellence in Promoting LHS Operations and Research at Einstein/Montefiore (EXPLORE), Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y.
  • University of California-San Francisco Learning Health System K12 Career Development Program, University of California- San Francisco, San Francisco, Calif.

AHRQ is the lead Federal agency charged with improving the safety and quality of America’s health care system. AHRQ develops the knowledge, tools, and data needed to improve the health care system and help Americans, health care professionals, and policymakers make informed health decisions.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is an independent nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information they need to make better-informed healthcare decisions. PCORI is committed to continuously seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.


As one of nine clinical research networks receiving funding from the People-Centered Research Foundation (PCORnet 2.0), the Chicago Area Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Network (CAPriCORN) is a partnership of research institutions, clinicians, patients and patient advocates. The CAPriCORN mission is to develop, test, and implement policies and programs that will improve health care quality, health outcomes, and health equity for diverse populations of the metropolitan Chicago region and beyond.

The Center for Health Information Partnerships (CHIP) serves a mission to bring people, communities, and data together to enable everyone to live their healthiest lives. Since 2010, CHIP has worked with its partners to strengthen the use of health information technology and improve access to health data. CHIP is part of the Institute of Public Health & Medicine based at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The Department of Medical Social Sciences (MSS) is dedicated to leveraging the social sciences, such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and economics, to forge innovations and effective applications of those innovations to improve the health of our community and our society. MSS sponsors the Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes, one of the founding centers of the Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM).

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