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Collaborating on Data, Science, and Infrastructure: The 20-Year Journey of the Cancer Research Network

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The Cancer Research Network (CRN) is a consortium of 12 research groups, each affiliated with a nonprofit integrated health care delivery system, that was first funded in 1998. The overall goal of the CRN is to support and facilitate collaborative cancer research within its component delivery systems. This paper describes the CRN's 20-year experience and evolution. The network combined its members' scientific capabilities and data resources to create an infrastructure that has ultimately supported over 275 projects. Insights about the strengths and limitations of electronic health data for research, approaches to optimizing multidisciplinary collaboration, and the role of a health services research infrastructure to complement traditional clinical trials and large observational datasets are described, along with recommendations for other research consortia.

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