UMB Named Partner in Optum Labs Research Collaborative

Partnership led by the School of Pharmacy will increase the scope and impact of Alzheimer’s disease and healthy aging research.

By Malissa Carroll
September 9, 2014

Optum Labs has named the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) as one of the latest partners to join its research collaborative. Led by Eleanor Perfetto, PhD, MS, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, this new partnership will enhance and augment UMB’s existing research and informatics resources with the data, tools, expertise, and infrastructure available at Optum Labs to increase the scope and impact of Alzheimer’s disease and healthy aging research.

“This partnership with Optum Labs enhances UMB’s recognition as a leader in ‘big data’ research,” says Perfetto. “In addition to expanding research opportunities for faculty and students across the University, the partnership increases our competitiveness for grants and contracts from industry, government, and philanthropic organizations. We look forward to combining our expertise and resources with those at Optum Labs to pursue innovative projects that will improve health care delivery and patient outcomes for individuals with Alzheimer’s diseases and other aging-related issues.”

“Optum Labs is excited to announce UMB as one of the latest partners to join our research collaborative,” adds Paul Bleicher, MD, PhD, chief executive officer of Optum Labs. “We welcome its researchers’ fresh insights and perspectives as we pursue new initiatives that will accelerate the pace of innovation in areas such as Alzheimer’s disease and healthy aging research.”

In addition to expanding the University’s partnerships with other prestigious organizations across the health care industry, the new partnership allows researchers across UMB to access Optum Labs’ high-quality, integrated clinical and claims data. These data will expand research opportunities for faculty and students in a wide range of fields, including comparative effectiveness, behavioral and policy topics, translation and dissemination, epidemiology and economics, safety and pharmacovigilance, heterogeneity in treatment response, resource utilization, and variations in care.

“Optum Labs houses one of the largest linked and de-identified claims and electronic medical records repositories in the country,” says Perfetto. “Researchers across the University can now access these data to conduct studies that will inform better decision making, support caregivers, and improve care for elderly patients.”

UMB brings a wealth of resources and expertise to the Optum Labs partnership that will strengthen the collaborative’s data resources. Its School of Pharmacy is the only pharmacy school represented in the collaborative and is home to the Pharmaceutical Research Computing (PRC) center, which provides a wide range of computer programming, data management, and analytic support services to meet health services researchers’ secondary data analysis needs. Under the direction of Eberechukwu Onukwugha, MS, PhD, assistant professor in PHSR, the center plans to further expand its services and outreach efforts to meet the evolving needs of researchers in the collaborative.

“The University’s new partnership with Optum Labs is an excellent opportunity for the School of Pharmacy to leverage the expertise and capabilities available within PRC,” says Onukwugha. “The center’s staff has proven skill working with large administrative claims databases, registries, and electronic medical records. We will work with UMB researchers to ensure that all researchers participating in the collaborative understand the services available to them through PRC and how to take advantage of them.”

The Peter Lamy Center for Drug Therapy and Aging and Center for Research on Aging further demonstrate the University’s commitment to improving health care delivery and patient outcomes for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other aging-related issues. Led by Bruce Stuart, PhD, professor in PHSR, the Lamy Center is internationally renowned for its work to improve drug therapy for aging adults. Housed within the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the Center for Research on Aging facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations across clinical, epidemiological, biomedical, mental health, legal-ethical, health services, and population-based research in aging. It is co-directed by Andrew Goldberg, MD, professor in the Department of Medicine, and Jay Magaziner, PhD, MSHyg, professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health.

Co-founded in early 2013 by Optum and Mayo Clinic, Optum Labs is the health care industry’s first open, collaborative research and innovation center. It brings together a community of health care stakeholders dedicated to improving patient care by sharing information, assets, technologies, knowledge, tools, and scientific expertise. Research is linked to the clinical environment through prototyping and testing in Optum and partners’ care settings, with a goal of achieving knowledge that improves health care delivery and patient outcomes.

UMB researchers who are interested in pursuing a research collaboration with Optum Labs are invited to visit the School of Pharmacy’s website for more information.

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