Cleveland Clinic COVID-19 research effort to rely on EHRs, analytics

The Cleveland Clinic is establishing a research arm that will use data from multiple sources, including its electronic health record, to study emerging pathogens.

The Center for Global and Emerging Pathogens Research will mine various data sources and then develop tools that can be used to predict risk and outcomes in patients.

A focus on COVID-19

The project has been in the works for the past 18 months, but it’s now ramping up research efforts related to COVID-19, said executives at the Cleveland Clinic, a multispecialty academic medical center based in Ohio. Leveraging Cleveland Clinic’s research infrastructure, the center’s researchers will uncover the scientific mechanisms of how SARS-Cov-2 and other pathogens cause disease.

The center will span Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute and the soon to be opened Cleveland Clinic Florida Research and Innovation Center. Research experts will lead initiatives to delve into diseases such as COVID-19, highly pathogenic influenza, Dengue fever, AIDS and Zika virus-related conditions, with the aim of expediting work and development of treatments and vaccines, said Dr. Serpil Erzurum, chair of the Lerner Research Institute.

“This new center will span our global healthcare system,” said Dr. James Young, chief academic officer at Cleveland Clinic. “It will provide critical technologies and resources, empowering our clinicians and scientists to understand biological pathways and develop new treatments against the novel coronavirus and other dangerous pathogens.”

The researchers plan to collaborate with the newly established Cleveland Clinic BioRepository to gain access to patient tissues, as well as EHR data through a large-scale secure database.

Looking at socioeconomic factors, too

In other collaborations within the Cleveland Clinic organization, the research team will collaborate with drug developers at the Lerner Research Institute’s Center for Therapeutics Discovery to translate findings into therapies, as well as with experts in the Populations Health Research Center to understand socioeconomic factors that affect risk of infection and poor outcomes.

Already in hand at the Cleveland Clinic is a registry of nearly 10,000 patients who have been tested for COVID-19, and work soon will be underway to integrate this data with its electronic health record. The researchers then plan to mine the data to inform other studies that can create predictive tools, Erzurum said.

The organization already has used artificial intelligence in efforts to identify potential drugs that could be repurposed for use against COVID-19. The research, which used a network-based prediction model, was published last month and found 16 drugs and three drug combinations that potentially could be used to treat the disease.

A clinical trials committee

Other projects on the drawing boards include uncovering how SARS-Cov-2 enters human cells, replicates and causes disease. The organization has stood up a clinical trials committee to identify and prioritize the most promising therapies for mild to severe forms of the disease.

“The new Florida Research and Innovation Center will complement and expand clinical research underway throughout Cleveland Clinic,” said Cleveland Clinic Florida’s Chief of Staff and Chief Academic and Innovation Officer Dr. Joseph Iannotti. “Our vision is to create a research institute dedicated to taking bench discoveries and creating leading-edge diagnostics, preventatives and treatments for infectious disease, oncology and other pressing healthcare problems.”

Fred Bazzoli is a contributing writer to Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @fbazzoli
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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