The DF/HCC Community Practice Core offers DF/HCC researchers an opportunity to work on cancer-related projects in real-world community settings.

The Core provides access to a racially diverse population of more than 11 million patients within the local and national community-based clinical practices of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates/Atrius Health (HVMA), Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC), and the NCI-funded HMO Cancer Research Network (CRN). These populations are ideal for studies involving basic, clinical, and population sciences; addressing diverse communities; requiring large samples of patients and/or providers; examining preventive strategies; involving rare cancers; investigating the dissemination of proven technologies and interventions; and studying cancer prevention. The core allows DF/HCC investigators access to comprehensive computerized patient and provider data, including medical records, pathology and radiology reports, tumor registry data, and offers support to members developing research proposals within these community practice settings.

Key Services


  • Meet with the DF/HCC investigator and provide input on the feasibility of the project
  • Assist the investigator to find an internal co-investigator within the community practice settings and introduce the investigator to the key clinical and administrative staff
  • Provide preliminary data needed for grant preparation
  • Assist with the development of the protocol to best take advantage of the planned study setting
  • Assist in completion of budgets and required local administrative protocols
  • Facilitate Institutional Review Board submissions (if required by grant source prior to funding)


  • Assist users to prepare the required IRB/HIPAA protocol submission, activation documentation, and if needed, annual continuing reviews
  • Assist with subject access and recruitment
  • Provide ongoing scientific input, including development or refinement of study protocols, interpretation of data, and manuscript preparation

Highlighted Projects

Current Projects

Project Title: Randomized Trial of a Mammography Decision Aid for Women Aged 75 and Older (NCI)  
Principal Investigator: Mara Schonberg, MD, MPH (BIDMC)
Description of the Project: This multi-site study, including Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, will test a decision aid on mammography screening for women >75 years. 
Contribution of the Core: Connected the PI to the local clinicians, obtained administrative approvals, and will facilitate study recruitment.

Project Title: Breast MRI Diffusion in Community Based Settings (American Cancer Society)
Principal Investigator: Natasha Stout, PhD (HMS)
Description of the Project: The purpose of the project is to study the use of breast MRI as a screening tool in community settings in the U.S, specifically to understand who is receiving MRI and the downstream effects.
Contribution of the Core: With the support through CPRC, this study will capitalize on the CRN’s Virtual Data Warehouse (VDW) and electronic medical record data from Atrius Health/HVMA.

Project Title: Building the Capacity to Conduct Population-based Research on Cancer during Pregnancy (Cancer Research Network Pilot Project – NCI)
Principal Investigator: Darren Toh, DSc (HMS) 
Description of the Project: This project aims to create the largest database of its kind to evaluate outcomes related to pregnancy and cancer.
Contribution of the Core: Connected PI to investigators in the HMO Cancer Research Network and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The study uses the CRNs Virtual Data Warehouse (VDW) for capturing cancer incidence.

Project Title: Shared Medical Appointments: An Innovative Approach to Cancer Survivorship Care (DF/HCC A. David Mazzone Research Award)
Principal Investigator: Larissa Nekhlyudov, MD, MPH (HMS) 
Co-Investigators: Ann Partridge, MD, MPH (DFCI); Christopher Recklitis, PhD, MPH (DFCI); Aymen Elfiky, MD, MPH (DFCI); Wilmer Roberts, MD, PhD
Description of Project: This project will pilot test shared research appointments (SMAs) with prostate cancer survivors within the Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates Urology Clinic setting to study the effect of the intervention on patient-oriented outcomes and health services utilization.
Contribution of the Core: Established a relationship with clinicians at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates and investigators at the DF/HCC, budget preparation, administrative approvals.

Project Title: Research on the Effectiveness of Advanced Cancer Treatments (REACT) (NCI)
Principal Investigators: Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH (DFCI); Debra Ritzwaller (Kaiser Permanente)
Description of the Project: This national, multi-site research study, seeks to measure the dissemination of effective interventions and examine the resulting outcomes.
Contribution of the Core: Cultivated a long-standing collaboration with Jane Weeks, MD, MSc, the PI of the project. The collaboration was initiated in the first cycle of funding, and CCRC has continued to facilitate new grant proposals in the current funding.

Project Title: Comparing the Long-term and Real World Effectiveness of Initial Management Strategies for DCIS(AHRQ)
Principal Investigator: Rinaa Punglia, MD, MPH (DFCI) 
Description of the Project: This project addresses treatment decision-making following treatment of ductal carcinoma in situ using an existing database and medical charts from the DCIS study conducted within the Cancer Research Network.
Contribution of the Core: Facilitated a connection between Dr. Punglia and the HMO Cancer Research Network investigators to develop this study utilizing data from an existing Cancer Research Network DCIS project.

Publication Acknowledgement

If research supported by this core facility results in publication, please acknowledge this support by including the following in your publication(s):
"We thank Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston, MA, for the use of the Community Practice Core, which provided __________ service. Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center is supported in part by an NCI Cancer Center Support Grant # NIH 5 P30 CA06516."