Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) Fellowship Application

Our Center’s research focuses on diseases that impact the elderly, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and dementia. These conditions are among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the United States and account for a substantial proportion of national health care spending. Our research portfolio spans multiple settings (VA, hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory settings) and topics which we’ve grouped under the headings of:

1) Comparative effectiveness of cancer imaging;
2) Clinical treatment choices for nursing home residents with dementia;
3) Comparative effectiveness of states' Medicaid policies on important clinical outcomes; and,
4) Comparisons of different insurance benefit designs on outcomes among Medicare managed care enrollees.

We have obtained over $35 million to fund CER studies in these four areas. To facilitate this research agenda, we have built expertise in large-scale database analyses of CMS data and cutting-edge analytic techniques, including complex multilevel models, which demand an understanding of the interaction of biological, social, and behavioral factors.

    About the Program

    The program provides postdoctoral fellows with an exciting opportunity to participate in groundbreaking post-doctoral training program, wide array of relevant available courses and seminars, and a vibrant and expanding research environment that has experienced substantial growth in new faculty doing health services research and externally-funded research. The training program emphasizes an individualized, competency based approach rooted in matching fellows to mentors and their existing research. Fellows will take a leadership role on a "major" project while still being part of an experienced research team, thereby taking advantage of our research data and project infrastructure.

    Program Structure

    Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) is an important tool for value based purchasing of health care needed to "bend the cost curve". To apply CER to the growing number of areas of need, it is essential to have trained investigators in the field. Brown University has been training successful post-doctoral fellows in health services research for a quarter century and is poised to extend this effort to the special needs of CER.


    Exposure to the various technical aspects of database management systems, whether for primary data collection or for use on existing data sets, is a critical aspect of the program. Fellows have access to a state-of-the-art research environment, complete with equipment, software, programming environments, systems programming, and data processing maintained by the Center’s technical staff. The Center houses an archive of computerized data sets, including studies that its faculty and associates have conducted, as well as publicly available data sets with a focus on long-term care and aging and preventive health practices, generally from national studies commissioned by governmental agencies. Center faculty and staff have years of experience working with administrative data sets such as Medicare and Medicaid claims, as well as with specialized clinical data from all US nursing homes. These are available to fellows working on the relevant projects.

    About the Center

    One of nine top-flight research centers that comprise Brown’s Program in Public Heath, the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research is nationally renowned for health services research focusing on chronic illness and long-term care. The Center's primary mission is to advance the fields of gerontology and health services research through methodological and substantive research, informed by basic theories of aging, human development and the illness experience. The goal of these efforts is to enhance the quality of life of persons with chronic illness, especially older adults. The research focus, both basic and applied, draws upon the social sciences as well as the clinical disciplines. The Center’s faculty members hold primary appointments in Health Services Policy and Practice Section and in the departments of Economics, Family Medicine, Medicine, Surgery, Sociology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Psychiatry and Human Behavior. Collaborative research relationships between hospital-based clinicians, particularly those located at the affiliated Veterans Administration hospital, and campus-based researchers provide the basis for numerous interdisciplinary health services research projects focusing on the Healthcare of older persons. Brown University and the Warren Alpert Medical School are located in Providence, New England’s second-largest city, with a population of approximately 160,000. As the state capital, it is the hub of Rhode Island’s business, governmental and cultural activities. The Healthcare and biotech industries, fueled by the $130 million in annual external research funding attracted by Brown and its affiliated hospitals, have transformed the landscape of the city. Former manufacturing facilities have provided prime space for state-of-the-art research laboratories, and the Healthcare industry is the number-one employer in the state, with 52,000 Rhode Islanders holding jobs in that sector. For more information on the Center and the program, please visit For more information on Providence and Rhode Island, go to and

    Application Process

    Interested physicians or clinicians who have completed some clinical training (preferably a residency and clinical fellowship, if appropriate) and non-physicians who have completed a PhD are invited to apply. Once applications have been reviewed by the faculty, a select group of candidates is invited for an interview. An invitation is based on a candidate's demonstrated academic ability, depth of commitment to health services research, and compatibility of research interests with ongoing projects at the Center. Invited candidates spend an entire day at the Center, give a research presentation, interview with the faculty who comprise the Evaluation and Review Committee, and meet the current postdoctoral fellows. The program director and the faculty review written evaluations by faculty and fellows, as well as information provided through informal discussions. For application, please hit "Continue" below.