About Us

In healthcare, we must not only do our work, but also improve our work. This requires the evidence base we will build through the Improvement Science Research Network.Dr. Kathleen R. Stevens, ISRN Director


The Improvement Science Research Network (ISRN) aims to accelerate the development and dissemination of interprofessional improvement science in a systems context across multiple sites. Across the country, healthcare experts, administrators, researchers, and clinicians are devising and testing new strategies to improve the safety and quality of patient care.

Yet, while patient safety and quality improvement in bedside care are
clearly-stated national priorities, improvement science remains in a nascent stage, particularly in the area of multidisciplinary care processes within the hospital setting.

The ISRN actively drives advancements in improvement science by:

  • Creating an infrastructure for multidisciplinary acute care providers to collaborate on improvement science projects through ISRN membership
  • Directing national improvement science research priorities
  • Supporting Network members in developing theories, methods, and designs for achieving rigorous improvement science research
  • Offering central data management and expert analysis for improvement science research studies

Creation of the ISRN

The need for a large-scale and multi-site Improvement Science Research Network has long been evident to healthcare practitioners. While a solution in the form of a national research network seemed logical and desirable, the resources required to develop human capacity and collaborative technology infrastructure were largely unavailable.

The unprecedented availability of sizable funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) presented the unique opportunity to form such a network. On May 29, 2009, a plan was submitted to, accepted, and subsequently funded by the National Institute of Nursing and the National Institutes of Health, and the Improvement Science Research Network was created.

ISRN aims and key strategies are described in the abstract of the proposal.

ISRN Governance

The ISRN is guided by two groups of experts:

The Steering Council

The Steering Council is composed of 12 healthcare experts from both private and public organizations. The aggregate expertise of this multidisciplinary group reflects advanced knowledge of healthcare improvement and guides the ISRN research priorities and activities.

The Coordinating Center

The ISRN Coordinating Center is housed within the Center for Advancing Clinical Excellence at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Founded upon a longstanding commitment to clinical and translational research, the ISRN Coordinating Center partners with the Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science (IIMS) to further reduce barriers to research and to strengthen the science of quality improvement.

ISRN Coordinating Center

Kathleen R. Stevens, EdD, MS, RN, ANEF, FAAN
Director of the NIH-Funded ISRN.


Darpan I. Patel, PhD, is an Assistant Professor/Research and serves as the clinical research project manager for the Improvement Science Research Network. He will serve as research manager, infrastructure administrator and assistant to the network director. Dr. Patel serves as the primary contact for the network regulatory and contractual issues. Dr. Patel is also involved in grant development, experiemtnal design, database development, data analysis and generating manuscripts and reports for Network Studies.

Frank Puga, PhD, is an Assistant Professor/Research and a research scientist and the coordinator for the ISRN Research Collaboratives. His primary role is to guide ISRN Research Associates in the conduct of rigorous scientific research using principles grounded in the Science of Team Science (SciTS). Additionally, Dr. Puga is involved in grant development, experimental design, protocol implementation, data analysis and generating scientific reports for the Network Studies.

Braulio Amezaga, BA, is a Research Area Specialist. His primary objective is to provide support for the ISRN team by compiling and preparing final datasets for principal investigators for analysis. Provide oversight in the cleaning, merging, and analyzing of data as well as identifying potential data problems and implementing solutions and assist in various administrative  tasks.

UTHSCSA Support and Resources

Institute for Integration of Medicine & Science
(IIMS; PI: Robert A. Clark, MD)

As a major component of the UTHSCSA, the IIMS houses our CTSA and offers a stable, interprofessional, and integrated home for the ISRN and support for the ISRN. The IIMS is one of 60 health research institutions working together as a national consortium to improve the way research is conducted across the country. The consortium shares a common vision to reduce the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients and to engage communities in clinical research efforts. IIMS will focus existing and newly developing resources and intellectual capital on advancing the discipline of clinical and translational research for the improvement of human health.

Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics (DEB)

DEB focuses on the development of interdisciplinary research within
clinical and community settings and providing education in epidemiology, biostatistics and critical appraisal of the medical literature. DEB has significant information technology resources that are used to support the research informatics needs of the University.

The biostatistics core of DEB provides the ISRN with study design,
power calculations, specification of statistical methods, co-authoring
IRB submissions, data analysis, graphics, co-authoring journal articles, responding to journal reviewers, and assistance with presentations, posters, and power point slides. The lead statistician, Joel Michalek PhD, has over 30 years of experience in the design and conduct of clinical trials, epidemiologic studies, and clinical studies. 

The informatics core DEB provides the ISRN support for projects with the Informatics Data Exchange and Acquisition System (IDEAS). 
IDEAS is a robust web-based human studies research data management framework. IDEAS is built on open and industry proven standards and methodologies and operates under and within multiple layers of physical and logical security. The system functions as an information broker facilitating data collection, data analysis, data exchange, and output reporting.

Office of Nursing Research and Scholarship
(ONRS; Dir: Carrie Jo Braden, PhD, RN, FAAN)

The ONRS provides services to facilitate and support the conduct of research by the ISRN The ONRS provides services to the ISRN, including consultation on research design and conduct; data management and analysis; information on funding sources; support services for grant preparation processes; advice on research development; dissemination of funding information; and resources.

UT Clinical Nursing Enterprise
(Dir: Julie Cowan Novak, DNSc, RN,CPNP, FAANP)

The UT Nursing Clinical Enterprise provides the ISRN with the ability to engage in a comprehensive practice environment, providing services to students, faculty, and staff as well as individuals in the community.
Dr. Novak provides expert advice on engaging hospitals in ISRN membership and engaging practitioners in implementing projects across multiple sites.


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Training Opportunity

May 5-6, 2016

TeamSTEPPS® Master Training Workshop

San Antonio, TX

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Free Web Seminar:

Who's Transforming Healthcare on Metrics That Matter?

April 5, 2016

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Miriam Bender, PhD, RN, University of California Irvine

Linda Roussel, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, CNL, The University of Alabama at Birmingham

Marjory (Micki) Williams, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, Temple, Texas

Web Seminar Series:

Wrestling Readmissions to the Mat: Evidence and Efforts
Part 3: November 18, 2015
What Works in Readmissions Reduction: How Hospitals Have Improved Performance
Amanda Brewster, PhD
Yale Global Health Leadership Institute
Part 2: August 13, 2015
Discharge Readiness as a Nurse Sensitive Indicator
Kathleen Bobay, PhD, RN, NEA-BC
Marquette University, College of Nursing
Part 1: June 10, 2015
Project C.A.R.E.
Gulsham Sharma, MD
UTMB Galveston

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