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VA Cooperative Studies Program (CSP)

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CSP Epidemiology Center - Durham (CSPEC-Durham)

Established in 1997, the CSP Epidemiology Center - Durham (CSPEC-Durham) is located on the campus of the Durham VA Health Care System in North Carolina. It is one of the CSPECs established by the Cooperative Studies Program that serve as national resources for epidemiologic research and training for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The primary mission of all CSPECs is to enhance VA health care delivery by promoting VA-based population research and to convert those results into a format that Veterans Health Administration providers and administrators can apply to improve patient care. The specific mission of the CSPEC-Durham is to support and encourage CSP-sponsored population-based research that includes the collection of information on the epidemiology and natural history and clinical course of disease, with an emphasis on medical care interventions and their evaluation.

The CSPEC-Durham has three major goals:

1.  Investigate the determinants of disease in Veterans, including molecular, genetic and biologic components.

This goal reflects the development of new areas of expertise. We have established collaborations with experienced clinicians and researchers who are interested in molecular, genetic, and biologic components of disease. One major and ongoing effort of the CSPEC-Durham is the development of a DNA bank from CSP study No. 500A, the nationwide registry of Veterans with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). For more information on the ALS Registry and the ALS DNA Bank, please visit and An ongoing project includes the development of a cohort and biorepository of Gulf War I Era Veterans. Our goal is to develop a resource for future research on the health care needs of this population.

2. Investigate the sources of disparities in the delivery and outcomes of medical care through VA-based population research.

Many studies examine the influence of patient, provider, and institutional factors on patient treatment and outcomes. Such studies demonstrate disparities in medical care and outcomes based on age, race, gender, socioeconomic status, geographic location, type of provider, and site of care. Our main objective toward meeting this goal is to use existing patient cohorts in which disparities have been documented and to look more rigorously into why the disparities exist.

3. Provide training opportunities in epidemiology to MD and PhD investigators through mentored research.

An expansion of the CSPEC-Durham's training initiative is achieved through the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) Training Award. This training program was originally conceived by the CSPEC-Durham Director for gastroenterology fellows seeking careers in health services research. In previous years, between 3 and 5 gastroenterology fellows were trained annually. As a CSPEC-Durham initiative, in 2007, we expanded the program to include further training and career development in epidemiology, and we have begun offering the program to Ph.D investigators as well as to M.D.s. Current fellows receive the additional applied and clinical epidemiology training through required coursework and intensive participation in a research study on a topic conceptualized by the trainee. The training also includes weekly meetings with the CSPEC-Durham Director, the expectation of at least a poster presentation at a national meeting, and the writing of a publishable article for a peer-reviewed journal.

Academic Affiliations

Key Personnel

Christina Williams, PhD, MPH
Acting Director, Durham ERIC

Marcus R. Johnson, MPH, MBA, MHA
Assistant Director - Operations, Durham ERIC


Durham ERIC

Durham VA Medical Center
508 Fulton St (152)
Durham, NC 27705
Phone: (919) 416-8023 or (919) 286-0411 ext. 4058
Fax: (919) 416-5839

Updated June 2021

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