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AHRQ Expands Therapeutics Education and Research Centers and Adds New Topics: Health IT, Economics, Formularies

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Press Release Date: October 12, 2007

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced today the award of $41.6 million over the next 4 years for a new coordinating center and 10 research centers as part of its Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) program. Four new centers are also added to the CERTs program.

"Expanding the Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics Program allows AHRQ to build a strong evidence base that consumers, clinicians, and others can use to make critical treatment decisions about therapeutic products and interventions, " said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "The increased number and breadth of expertise in the CERTs will broaden the range of knowledge to help the health care system make measurable improvements in the quality and safety of medications and other treatments and health care."

The new AHRQ-funded CERTs Coordinating Center is Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. In addition to assuming infrastructure and leadership support for the CERTs National Steering Committee and research centers, the Center for Health Research will expand the program's ability to translate research findings through collaborations with other research networks, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Roadmap's Clinical Trials Initiative, the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards, and AHRQ's Effective Healthcare Program.

In addition to the new coordinating center, there are now 14 CERTs program centers in all. The four new centers receiving first-time funding are:

  • Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, which will focus on how health information technology can improve the safe use of medications.
  • The University of Illinois at Chicago, which will focus on how reinvigorating formularies promote best medication uses.
  • Cincinnati's Children's Hospital Medical Center which will focus on improving pediatric patient care through projects, such as how children's metabolism may affect drug effectiveness and safety.
  • The University of Chicago, which will focus on hospital use of medications and other therapeutics and their clinical and economic implications.

Six previously funded CERTs research centers won new funding awards. They are: Duke University (therapies for disorders of the heart and blood vessels); Harvard Pilgrim Health Care on behalf of the HMO Research Network (drug use, safety, and effectiveness in defined populations cared for by health plans); University of Alabama at Birmingham (therapies for disorders of the joints and bones); The Arizona CERT at The Critical Path Institute (potentially harmful drug interactions, particularly in women); University of Pennsylvania (therapies for infectious diseases); and Vanderbilt University (prescription drug use in a Medicaid population).

The remaining four centers, which received funding in 2006, are: MD Anderson, Texas (risk and health communication; patient, consumer, and professional education); Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (mental health therapies); the University of Iowa (improving elderly care, both therapeutics and care management); and the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York (therapeutic medical devices).

The CERTs program, which AHRQ administers in partnership with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was originally authorized by Congress in 1997 to examine the benefits, risks, and cost-effectiveness of therapeutic products; educate patients, consumers, doctors, pharmacists, and other clinical personnel; and improve quality of care while reducing unnecessary costs by increasing appropriate use of therapeutics and preventing adverse effects and their medical consequences.

For more information, please contact AHRQ: (301) 427-1258 or (301) 427-1855.


 

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