Minnesota Nursing magazine

A super-sized research and innovation cohort

The School of Nursing is one of 27 members of the OptumLabs research and innovation collaborative, which convenes experts from health care, industry and academic institutions to explore high-impact research questions that can lead to improved practices and treatment in health care.

With a national data warehouse containing de-identified data on more than 160 million patient lives, OptumLabs provides the school and the rest of the University of Minnesota with the opportunity to partner with diverse organizations to tackle complex research questions.

“There are several large data sets for conducting big data health research in the country, but the OptumLabs collaborative is unique in many respects,” said Thomas Clancy, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN, associate dean for practice, partnerships and professional development at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing. “The ability to link de-identified clinical and claims data on patients is extremely valuable. As a partner in an academic-corporate partnership, we are collectively building our capacity to extract, process and analyze the data in new ways, for new discoveries.”

“One of the most exciting aspects of our collaborative approach is the learning that occurs as we work together with these big integrated data sets.” – William Crown, chief scientific officer for OptumLabs

The statin project described on the previous pages is one of eight research projects underway at the University of Minnesota that utilizes the OptumLabs Data Warehouse. “At OptumLabs, each of our partners brings something different and unique,” said William Crown, chief scientific officer for OptumLabs. “Our model is that we are the facilitators, providing the data, the tools, the environment, the architecture and the knowledge about the data, but it’s actually our partners who are doing the work, often collaboratively.”

Crown says the OptumLabs model is designed to move research along and into practice swiftly. “One of the most exciting aspects of our collaborative approach is the learning that occurs as we work together with these big integrated data sets,” he said. “We are creating forums where partners are sharing their knowledge. That way, individual researchers don’t to have to learn and discover this knowledge on their own.”

As the only school of nursing involved in the research and innovation collaborative, the school shares the nursing perspective in collaborative national research discussions and manages access to the OptumLabs national data warehouse for the entire University of Minnesota.

“The School of Nursing has done a particularly good job of investing their time in building their knowledge and expertise of the collaborative and data warehouse,” said Crown. “They are an excellent partner, very prolific, with a mix of diverse projects underway.”


OptumLabs Collaborative Members
  • AARP
  • Age UK
  • American Cancer Society
  • American Heart Association
  • AMGA
  • Boston Scientific
  • Boston University School of Public Health
  • Brown University School of Public Health
  • The Global CEO Initiative
  • Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy
  • Imperial College London
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Lehigh Valley Health Network
  • LSE Health
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Medica Research Institute
  • MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Optum
  • Oxford Academic Health 
  • Science Network
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • ResMed
  • Tufts Medical Center
  • University of California Health
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Minnesota 
  • School of Nursing
  • University of Rochester
  • US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Yale University