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 EPI 218

Database Management Systems
for Clinical Research
EPI 218 Summer 2017 (1 unit)

Application Deadline: July 17, 2017


Inevitably, data in any clinical research study will reside in a computer database. The software that runs this computer database is the database management system (DBMS). The DBMS is used to collect, store, update, and query not only study data (including exposures and outcomes), but also administrative information, such as patient contact information, exam schedules, reimbursement records, etc. Just as the clinical investigator must plan (and budget) for statistical analysis, she/he should also plan (and budget) for data management.

At the conclusion of this course, students will:

  • Understand the basics of the Relational Model and how to develop a relational database for a research study;
  • Understand the differences between desktop applications such as Access™ and web-based research data collection systems such as REDCap or QuesGen™
  • Be capable of designing and developing on-screen data collection forms using Microsoft Access™ and web-based forms using REDCap; and
  • Be capable of planning (and budgeting for) data management in a research study.

The example used throughout this course is the "Infant Jaundice Study", a fictional cohort study of the association between neonatal jaundice and IQ scores at age 5 in children born over a three-year period within a regional hospital system.




Course Director:

Michael A. Kohn, MD, MPP
Phone: 415-514-8142
email: michael.kohn@ucsf.edu

Instructor Josh Senyak
email: josh.senyak@quicksilverconsulting.com
Teaching Assistants:




Weekly lectures introduce the substantive materials for each module, which is subsequently reinforced in weekly applied homework problem sets. Weekly computer lab sessions give students the opportunity to ask questions and have more interaction with faculty.

  1. Lectures: Thursdays: 8:30 to 9:20 AM.
    Lecture recordings will be available online later in the day. To determine if you have sufficient bandwidth to view online lectures, please visit our demonstration site.

  2. Computer Labs: In-person labs: Thursdays: 9:30 to 10:30 AM.
    You will need to bring a laptop to all lab sessions.
    Online labs: Wednesdays: 4:30 to 6:00 pm

Students may take the course in an entriely in-person format (physically attending lectures and computer labs), entirely online format, or a hybrid. All students are expected to watch the lectures, either in-person or online. Computer labs are optional and are available to provide additional help for students with questions. These sessions can be attended in-person or online. All students are expected to turn in their weekly homework problem sets through the assigned online portal. In summary, students who approach the course through an online format will experience and have access to the exact same materials as the in-person version and have the same access to course faculty for discussion and questions as the in-person version.

All course materials will be posted on the course's online syllabus.


"Chapter 16: Data Management" by MA Kohn in Designing Clinical Research by Stephen B Hulley, et al. Wolters Kluwer. 4th Edition. 2013.

Books may be purchased either through the publisher or a variety of commercial venues (e.g., Amazon.com).

MyResearch/Microsoft Access

MyResearch is a secure data hosting serivce for UCSF researchers. In addition to providing secure, HIPAA-compliant storage for research study data, MyResearch provides remote-desktop access to several applications including Microsoft Access, which is required for the first 3 sessions of this course. We will submit the initial account requrest for all students enrolled in EPI 218, but you must sign an online "attestation form" prior to receiving your login ID.

By the first session in the course, you should have tested your MyResearch account and ensured that you can launch Microsoft Access. Please note that MyResearch limits free storage to 10 gigabytes of data. Students will be responsible for any charges that incur for data storage beyond this limit.


REDCap is a web-based research data collection system developed by an academic consortium based at Vanderbilt University. REDCap enables researchers to build data entry forms, surveys, and surveys with attached private data entry forms. The survey builder is similar to SurveyMonkey.  As with MyResearch, REDCap is available through the UCSF Academic Research Systems, and we will submit your initial account request. The same online attestation form required for MyResearch applies to REDCap. You must have a functional REDCap log-in prior to the 4th session of the course.


QuesGen is a full-featured, web-based data collection system developed by a private company for academic researchers at UCSF and other institutions. Enrolled students in EPI 218 will be provided with a QuesGen username and password as needed for use during the course.

UCSF Graduate Division Policy on Disabilities


To apply for this course, please fill out and submit the application below. Please see our fee page for cost information. The deadline for application is July 17, 2017. Only one application needs to be completed for all courses desired during the quarter.

The application is best completed using the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Safari.


Information for how to pay;
please read before applying