Research by the numbers: Mining clinical data from Harvard-affiliated hospitals.

Who benefits?

  • Eligible* faculty and fellows at the five SHRINE participating institutions.

What is it?

  • A web-based query tool that allows investigators to determine the aggregate number of patients seen at participating hospitals who meet clinical criteria of interest.

Why use it?

  • Identifying or characterizing potential clinical trial cohorts for recruitment
  • Generating new research hypotheses
  • Planning or conducting research requiring large sample sizes (e.g., population health studies)
  • Preparing grant applications

The Shared Health Research Information Network (SHRINE) helps researchers overcome one of the greatest problems in population-based research: Compiling large groups of well-characterized patients. Eligible investigators may use the SHRINE web-based query tool to determine the aggregate total number of patients at participating hospitals who meet a given set of inclusion and exclusion criteria. The criteria are currently demographics, diagnoses, medications, and selected laboratory values. Because counts are aggregate, patient privacy is protected.

The SHRINE network currently covers six million patients and provides more than 10 billion medical facts from the five participating institutions: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital. The data are subject to stringent administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to assure privacy and security.

* Who's eligible: SHRINE is available to faculty (appointed at or above the level of instructor) and fellows employed by one of the SHRINE participating institutions. Fellows may only access SHRINE under the mentorship of an eligible faculty member.



A full professor who studies asthma wants to conduct a clinical trial evaluating a new therapeutic treatment for patients whose asthma is triggered by a latex allergy. Her home institution has only a limited number of potential subjects. By using SHRINE, however, she is able to select the relevant clinical criteria [1], add them to the SHRINE query tool [2], and identify nearly 400 patients across the multiple participating institutions who are potentially eligible for her clinical trial [3].

A postdoctoral fellow who works at Massachusetts General Hospital has an epidemiology background and is interested in comorbidity between type II diabetes and autism spectrum disorders. He consults with his mentor, an assistant professor in his department, who creates a SHRINE account and Query Topic, and invites the postdoctoral fellow into her project. The fellow conducts the relevant queries and is able to analyze co-occurrence between the two diseases across the SHRINE participating hospitals.

An associate professor from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center notices a funding opportunity for identification of surrogate biomarkers from patients on a class of medication. He wants to apply for this funding opportunity, but the RFA states that he needs to enroll several thousand patients in his study. He consults SHRINE, which states that there are 3,500 patients across the five participating institutions who meet the eligibility criteria. The investigator incorporates this number into his grant application to demonstrate feasibility for the study.

Who is using SHRINE?

SHRINE is designed for eligible investigators who want to leverage the vast clinical network of the five participating institutions to answer questions in seconds that might have otherwise taken years. See how it's helped these investigators.

Open Source

SHRINE is available as an open source platform for institutions seeking a web-based means of identifying cohorts of patients within your own network.

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"I use SHRINE to investigate personalized therapies for patients. Rather than relying on clinical trials data as a source of evidence, the approach is to examine the real-world experience of patients similar to ours. This is a shift toward using large-scale observational data sets to form the evidence base."
Kenneth Mandl, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Boston Children's Hospital

SHRINE National Pilot

SHRINE National Pilot is an implementation of SHRINE technology to create a demonstration network that will include selected, geographically diverse academic health centers from across the United States.

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"Continuing in the tradition of the Research Patient Data Registry at Partners HealthCare, SHRINE promotes the broad use of electronic medical records for clinical research in a manner that respects patient confidentiality and can be used in a straightforward way by clinical investigators."
Shawn Murphy, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Medical Director, Research Computing, Partners HealthCare

You can access SHRINE from the Research Resources menu of the Harvard Catalyst website.

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