Making It Easier to Access Data

If you're a researcher looking for large data sets it may be difficult to know where to start, what resources are availalble, and how to find what you're looking for.

That’s where CELDAC comes in. The Comparative Effectiveness Large Data Set Analysis Core (CELDAC) was created to accelerate the use of large, public data sets in conducting studies of health and health care.

"CELDAC is the combination of a concierge service and a social network,” says Janet Coffman, MA, MPP, PhD, director of CELDAC and assistant adjunct professor in the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF. “We’re in the business of linking investigators to both relevant data sets and other researchers who can assist them in carrying out their research.”

CELDAC is the combination of a concierge service and a social network.
Janet Coffman, MA, MPP, PhD; Director of CELDAC

In support of UCSF faculty and trainees CELDAC provides several resources, including:

  • a searchable online inventory of large, public data sets;
  • a repository of select data sets available to UCSF researchers at no cost through MyResearch;
  • a consultation service to assist researchers in identifying data sets, obtaining data sets, finding faculty with relevant expertise, and performing data analyses.  

Expanding Beyond UCSF

With support from the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) in the form of a one-year grant award, CELDAC is continuing to expand its reach beyond UCSF. Much of the work under the CHCF grant will focus on improving CELDAC’s online, searchable inventory of large, public data sets, which are publicly available.

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at UCSF is also currently providing funding and in-kind assistance to support CELDAC expansion. That includes communications and technology assistance through CTSI’s Virtual Home program.

“CTSI’s involvement is a good example of putting UCSF’s resources on the table to leverage greater resources from external funders,” says Coffman. “With CTSI, we’re working to improve the online user interface, enhance the information available about data sets in the inventory, and facilitate downloading of search results. We are also identifying additional sources of state and sub-state level data on health and health care.”

In terms of what’s to come, Coffman is focused on partnerships and exploring ideas for how to expand services to health care researchers at other institutions, policymakers, and community-base organizations in California.

A Focus On Partnerships

CELDAC is collaborating with the Society for General Internal Medicine (SGIM), another organization that has created an online inventory of large, public data sets to leverage the respective strengths of the two inventories. SGIM is the professional society of primary care internal medicine faculty at medical schools and teaching hospitals, and its research data compendium is overseen by Alexander Smith, MD, MS, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine UCSF. The online cross-sharing of information about data sets includes a SGIM link to CELDAC’s search engine and CELDAC link to SGIM’s expert commentaries on data sets contained in both inventories. 

Dr. Coffman also demonstrated CELDAC’s online, searchable inventory of data sets at a briefing in Sacramento, CA, sponsored by CHCH in partnership with the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, The SCAN Foundation, the California Health Policy Forum, and the West Wireless Health Institute.  The event was designed to engage policymakers and stakeholders in a conversation about improving access to health care data collected by state government agencies. As an outgrowth of this event, CELDAC received additional funding from CHCF to conduct interviews with state policymakers to assess their needs for data on health care coverage, access, and quality and identify their priorities for expanding access to data.

Another partnership involves CTSI’s Community Engagement & Health Policy (CE&HP) program. CELDAC is participating in consultations that CE&HP provides to community-based organizations and local governments in the San Francisco Bay Area and exploring other ways in which it can help community-based organizations and local governments access data pertinent to their work.

CELDAC is a partnership between the Philip R Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies (IHPS) and Academic Research Systems (ARS), which is part of CTSI’s Biomedical Informatics program.

CTSI is a member of the National Institutes of Health-funded Clinical and Translational Science Awards network. Under the banner of Accelerating Research to Improve Health, it provides a wide range of services for researchers, and promotes online collaboration and networking through tools such as UCSF Profiles.

Learn more about working with large data sets, how to find large data sets, or other research resources offered by CTSI.

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