The Boston University MAMDC has emphasized health services research and rheumatic disease epidemiology since the Arthritis Center began in 1977. The funds requested will continue to support the activities of this core unit as a central resource for health services epidemiology and other research in this Arthritis Center. Specifically, funds are sought for five crucial support services: 1) administration; 2) project design and evaluation; 3) statistical services; 4) computer services; and 5) ongoing Framingham epidemiology analyses. Core unit staff in each of these areas will be involved in four types of activities that will serve to realize the purposes of the Arthritis Center core: 1) integration of the multiple E/E/HSR and non-biomedical D + F projects detailed in this renewal grant; 2) supplementary support for these projects and for other project opportunities that will arise as the center evolves during the five year grant cycle; 3) technical support services for other basic and clinical research projects in this Arthritis Center for which this core has and will continue to provide important research support services; and (4) consultative support services for investigators in other arthritis research units. The core unit arrangement creates a network of resources that extends the function of staff beyond their specific project assignments and facilitates the efficient use of staff time. The hub of this central resource is the shared office space of members of this support unit which leads them to frequent interpersonal consultation and weekly staff meetings in which ongoing and proposed research projects are critically evaluated. The core service functions will provide supplemental support for projects in epidemiology and health care research funded through this proposal and for a number of other projects that are and will be funded from other sources. This core already provides substantial research support from multiple, externally funded projects and will continue to do so. The core will also provide critical start-up for new projects that evolve during the grant cycle. Furthermore, the core will provide service to other basic and clinical projects in the arthritis center and will enable our staff to continue their consultative support to researchers at other arthritis units.

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