UC BRAID Focuses on the Learning Healthcare System and Translating Discovery to Health

 UC BRAID Executive Committee members (from left): Dan M. Cooper, MD (UCI), Rachael Sak, BSN, MPH (BRAID Director), Gary S. Firestein, MD (UCSD), Lars Berglund, MD, PhD (UCD, BRAID Chair), Jennifer Grandis, MD (UCSF), Steven M. Dubinett, MD (UCLA).
UC BRAID Executive Committee members (from left): Dan M. Cooper, MD (UCI), Rachael Sak, BSN, MPH (BRAID Director), Gary S. Firestein, MD (UCSD), Lars Berglund, MD, PhD (UCD, BRAID Chair), Jennifer Grandis, MD (UCSF), Steven M. Dubinett, MD (UCLA).

Having built a powerful research network across five University of California medical campuses, the leaders of UC BRAID have a new vision: the integration of research and clinical care to create a learning health system.

At their annual meeting in October, UC BRAID leaders emphasized that a “learning health system” means more than doing research in a busy clinic. They envision using patient data—medical records, genetic information, demographics and other personal information—to transform health care, with an emphasis on value, quality and safety.

The goal, they said, is to harness data to improve care for every patient.

UC BRAID, which stands for University of California Biomedical Research Acceleration Integration & Development, is a network of the five UC medical campuses that have received Clinical and Translational Science Awards from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. UC Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco formed UC BRAID in 2010 to develop a shared infrastructure to accelerate research that improves health.

Some of UC BRAID’s accomplishments to date include:

  • Building the UC Research Exchange (UC ReX), a federated clinical data warehouse that contains de-identified information from over 15 million patients
  • Facilitating a UC-wide child health network focused on advancing research and clinical care
  • Developing UC TrialQuest, a UC-wide database of IRB-approved clinical trials

Many of these efforts can be leveraged to support a learning health system.

As UC President Janet Napolitano said in a video message to Retreat attendees, “Your work is critical, not only in promoting systemwide efficiencies and innovation, but also in helping UC address some of the most pressing health issues we are facing in California, and beyond.”

UC BRAID’s bold vision of a learning health system, she noted, “points to the need for us to cross traditional boundaries and disciplines to achieve our goals. We must redefine how we engage with our patients, and how we use data and the vast expertise at UC to improve health.”

During the two-day meeting at UCLA’s Luskin Conference Center, UC BRAID leaders stressed that the success of a learning health system will depend on a strong spirit of collaboration between research and clinical teams. Dr. Steve Dubinett, director of the CTSA at UCLA and incoming chair of UC BRAID, explained that this bold vision has “the potential to transform healthcare delivery—utilizing the totality of temporal data from large patient populations to ultimately inform the personalized treatment of the patient in front of us.”

Dr. Michael Gould, director of health services research and implementation science at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, presented two case studies based on his work at Kaiser Permanente, which has been implementing a learning health system. The first was an analysis of strategies to prevent blood clots in hospitalized patients. The second looked at the evaluation of lung nodules detected on computerized tomography (CT) scans.

“Clinicians need tools—access to data in a way they can understand and manipulate,” Gould said. “The idea is not to make everyone a researcher but to give clinicians access to information they need to do their job, and do it better, every day.”

At the meeting, participants were also updated on the University’s progress in clinical informatics, including the recent agreement between UC Health and OptumLabs and plans for the UC Clinical Data Warehouse. Several BRAID groups presented on their efforts and future plans.

The second day of the Retreat focused on increasing access to UC discoveries, with presentations on aligning the clinical research resources across the five campuses and opportunities for collaboration in participant recruitment.

The morning gave way to breakout sessions for several of BRAID’s initiatives: Participant Recruitment, Single IRB, Contracting, and Biobanking. These groups brainstormed opportunities to pursue in the coming year with an emphasis on developing common solutions to systemwide needs.

UC BRAID “is a system that works because everyone is committed to it,” Dr. Lars Berglund, director of the CTSA at UC Davis and outgoing chair of UC BRAID, said. “It will stay on the national horizon as a model that works for research ‑ and for patients.”

Please click here to view the BRAID Retreat’s overview, presentations, and photos.