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OHSU named U.S. West Coast branch for international Cochrane Collaboration

This honor will further OHSU’s work in conducting and using scientific evidence reviews to decide what works best in health care

The international Cochrane Collaboration — the world's leading organization for conducting systematic reviews on what works in health care — announced today that its new West Coast branch of the U.S. Cochrane Center will be at Oregon Health & Science University.

The West Coast branch will work in concert with the Cochrane Collaboration's primary U.S. center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. The branch will be led by Mark Helfand, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., a professor of medicine, and medical informatics and clinical epidemiology in the OHSU School of Medicine, and a staff physician at the Portland VA Medical Center. Helfand is a longtime U.S. leader in systematic health care reviews and evidence-based medicine.

“We are honored that the internationally respected Cochrane Collaboration has chosen OHSU to be a partner in its important work,” said OHSU Provost Jeanette Mladenovic, M.D., M.B.A., M.A.C.P. “Health care — and the education of health care professionals — will improve only when we have the best evidence-based understanding of what works in medicine. That view has driven people at OHSU for years, and we're excited and proud to now be even more strongly involved in that movement.”

The Cochrane Collaboration is an international nonprofit organization formed 21 years ago. It was named for British epidemiologist Archie Cochrane, who had called for continually updated systematic reviews of clinical trials in all areas of medicine. The Cochrane now has more than 31,000 volunteer medical experts working in more than 120 countries. It produces more than 400 systematic health care reviews each year — reviews that have assessed the medical evidence on everything from using antimicrobial drugs to treat cholera to the use of antihistamines for ear infections in children.

The Cochrane makes its reviews available through an online database called the Cochrane Library.

The Cochrane has 14 centers and 22 branches throughout the world, including at Johns Hopkins and now OHSU. All follow the mission of The Cochrane: to improve health care by promoting evidence-based decision-making and by producing accurate and up-to-date reviews of the medical evidence.

OHSU — and Helfand individually — have for decades been U.S. leaders in promoting evidence-based health care.

In 1997, OHSU was selected host to one of the nation's 10 evidence-based practice centers, designated by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Helfand was the founding director. The agency has continued to award EPC designations to OHSU since then, most recently in 2012, when OHSU began working with new partners and changed the center's name to the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center.

Helfand, meanwhile, now serves on the Methodology Committee of the new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, a non-governmental organization established in the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act and dedicated to health outcomes research.

“This new partnership with the Cochrane Collaboration will allow us to expand our work to advocate for better evidence, make it more accessible, and increase its impact — and to include more perspectives and feedback from patients and the physicians who help them every day,” Helfand said. “It's time to bring evidence-based medicine even closer to the ground, closer to patients. And it makes sense that Oregon and OHSU would be at the forefront of that.”

OHSU’s West Coast branch will partner in some of its Cochrane work with the University of California at San Francisco. Dorie Apollonio, Ph.D., associate adjunct professor in UCSF’s Department of Clinical Pharmacy, will serve as an associate director. Jeanne-Marie Guise, M.D., M.P.H., professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine, will also serve as an associate director of the West Coast branch.

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