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Agency for Healthcare Research Quality

AHRQ Centers for Primary Care Practice-Based Research and Learning

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has funded grants to establish Centers for Primary Care Practice-Based Research and Learning to stimulate innovation in how to improve the delivery and organization of primary care and to accelerate quality improvement in real world primary care practices.

In September 2012, AHRQ announced grant awards to eight institutions to support collaborative centers for primary care practice-based research.

The goals of this new initiative are to learn more about the delivery and organization of primary care and to create communities of learning among primary care practices, in which they may improve health care quality, patient safety, and effectiveness of care.

For more than a decade, AHRQ has invested in primary care practice-based research networks (PBRNs) as vehicles for "putting practice into research and research into practice." PBRNs are groups of ambulatory medical practices devoted principally to the primary care of patients that join to conduct and disseminate research to improve the practice of primary care.

While AHRQ has supported PBRNs with as few as 15 primary care practices, each Center created through this program has a minimum of 120 member practices and several have more than 500. Many of the Centers are collaborations between smaller well-established PBRNs. By leveraging common resources, these Centers are expected to improve productivity and to develop the ability to plan and conduct independent research projects more quickly and produce results that are more generalizable than they would as separate PBRNs.

AHRQ grant funding will allow each Center to support administrative and research cores over the next 5 years. AHRQ also intends to release limited-competition rapid-cycle research grants targeted at these Centers. These funding opportunities will focus on AHRQ priority research areas including how primary care practices can contribute to patient safety, implement health IT to improve quality, and deliver patient-centered care. The Centers will be encouraged to utilize their shared infrastructure to pursue a wide variety of research projects, funding opportunities, and quality improvement activities supported by a broad base of funders.

AHRQ and Primary Care

AHRQ defines primary care using the Institute of Medicine's definition: "Primary care is the provision of integrated, accessible health care services by clinicians who are accountable for addressing a large majority of personal health care needs, developing a sustained partnership with patients, and practicing in the context of family and community."  

In 1999, Congress designated AHRQ to serve as the principal source of funding for primary care research in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Since then AHRQ has made significant investments in support of PBRNs. In addition to the Centers for Primary Care Practice-Based Research and Learning grant initiative, AHRQ supports a national registry of PBRNs, a PBRN Resource Center, and the Web site The agency also funds national PBRN research conferences. 

To learn more about PBRNs, please visit:

The New AHRQ-funded Centers for Primary Care Practice-Based Research and Learning

AAFP National Research Network and DARTNet Collaborative PBRN Center for Excellence
Primary Institution: American Academy of Family Physicians
Center Director/Principal Investigator: Kim Kimminau, PhD
Participating PBRNs:

  • AAFP National Research Network.
  • DARTNet Institute.
  • American College of Physicians Network (ACPNet).
  • Collaborative Care Research Network (CCRN).
  • Connecticut Center for Primary Care (CCPC).
  • Dental Practice-Based Research Network (DPBRN).
  • Electronic National Quality Improvement and Research Network (eNQUIRENet).
  • Free Clinic Research & Educational Engagement Network (FREENet).
  • New York City Research Improvement and Networking Group (NYC RING).
  • Oklahoma Physicians Resource/Research Network (OKPRN).
  • Residency Research Network of Texas (RRNet).
  • Scalable Architecture for Therapeutic Inquires Network (SAFTINet).
  • South Texas Ambulatory Research Network (STARNet).
  • Upstate New York Practice Based Research Network (UNYNet).
  • WWAMI Region Practice and Research Network (WPRN).

Collaborative Ohio Inquiry Network (COIN)
Primary Institution: Case Western Reserve University
Center Director/Principal Investigator: James Werner, PhD, MSSA
Participating PBRNs:

  • Research Association of Practices (RAP).
  • Safety Net Providers' Strategic Alliance (SNPSA).
  • Cleveland Clinic Ambulatory Research Network (CLAReN).
  • Rainbow Office-Based Clinical Research Network (RRC).
  • Better Health Greater Cleveland (BHGC).
  • Ohio State University Primary Care PBRN (OSU-PCPBRN).
  • Cincinnati Area Research Group (CARinG Network).
  • Cincinnati Pediatric Research Group (CPRG).
  • Northeast Ohio Network (NEON®).

Coordinated Consortium of Networks (CoCoNet2)
Primary Institution: University of Oklahoma
Center Director/Principal Investigator: James Mold, MD, MPH
Participating PBRNs:

  • LA Net.
  • Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians Research Network (MAFPRN).
  • Oklahoma Physicians Research/Resource Network (OKPRRN).
  • Oklahoma Child Health Research Network.
  • Upstate New York Network (UNYNet).
  • Wisconsin Research and Education Network (WREN).

N2: Building a Network of Safety Net PBRNs
Primary Institution: Clinical Directors Network, Inc.
Center Director/Principal Investigator: Jonathan Tobin, PhD
Participating PBRNs:

  • Access Community Health Network (ACCESS).
  • The Alliance of Chicago (ALLIANCE).
  • The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO).
  • The Center for Community Health Education, Research and Service (CCHERS).
  • Clinical Directors Network (CDN).
  • The Community Health Applied Research Network (CHARN).
  • The Fenway Institute.
  • The New York City Research and Improvement Networking Group (NYCRING).
  • OCHIN.

Center for Pediatric Practice Research & Learning (C-PRL)
Primary Institution: American Academy of Pediatrics
Center Director/Principal Investigator: Richard "Mort" Wasserman, MD, MPH
Participating PBRNs:

  • Pediatric Research in Office Settings (PROS).
  • AAP Quality Improvement Innovation Network (QuIIN).
  • Pediatric Research Consortium of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (PeRC).

Primary Care MultiEthnic Network (PRIME Net) Center in Practice-based Research and Learning
Primary Institution: Wayne State University
Center Director/Principal Investigator: Anne Victoria Neale, PhD, MPH
Participating PBRNs:

  • The Colorado Research Network (CaReNet).
  • LA Net.
  • Metropolitan Detroit PBRN (MetroNet).
  • Research Involving Outpatient Settings Network (RIOS Net).
  • Southeast Regional Clinicians Network (SERCN).
  • Clinicians Research Network (CRN).
  • Southwest Ohio Ambulatory Research Network (SOAR Net).
  • Southern Primary-care Urban Research Network (SPUR-Net).

Practice Partners Research Network (PPRNet)
Primary Institution: Medical University of South Carolina
Center Director/Principal Investigator: Steven Ornstein, MD
Participating PBRNs: PPRNet

Meta-network Learning and Research Center (Meta-LARC)
Primary Institution: Oregon Health Sciences University
Center Director/Principal Investigator: Lyle J. Fagnan, MD
Participating PBRNs:

  • Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN).
  • Iowa Research Network (IRENE).
  • State Networks of Colorado Ambulatory Practices and Partners (SNoCAP).
  • Safety Net West PBRN (SNW).
  • Quebec Practice Based Research Network (QPBRN).
  • Wisconsin Research and Education Network (WREN).

Current as of September 2012

Internet Citation:

AHRQ Centers for Primary Care Practice-Based Research and Learning. September 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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