Diversifying Electronic Cohort Research at UCSF

A community-engaged contest to select and support a diverse "eCohort" at UCSF


Online-enabled research projects, including “eCohort” studies, are vital to research at UCSF through their ability to efficiently recruit and retain large populations and collect patient-reported outcomes over time. However, racial/ethnic minorities tend to be underrepresented as participants in these types of studies, both at UCSF and elsewhere. The inability to recruit participants representative of the population leads to scientific results that lack generalizability and impact and perpetuate health inequities. UCSF is investing in an infrastructure, including a technology platform and community partnerships, that will help increase racial/ethnic diversity in online research projects.  We are now seeking to develop that infrastructure and demonstrate its value for 2 UCSF-based eCohort projects.

We are requesting proposals for "shovel-ready" cohort studies that are in need of an online engagement platform (for electronic consent, online surveys, smartphone-based messaging, wearable device integration, and/or for gathering electronic health record data from UCSF) and that are aiming for diverse  participants. Cohort studies are eligible if they need help to diversify, need help to be online-enabled, or both.

The proposal selection committee includes leaders of  community partner organizations, UCSF research leadership and UCSF peer investigators.

Winning proposals will work collaboratively with the UCSF Diverse eCohort team, which includes researchers, tech developers, and community organization leaders to develop an adapted online research platform that is tailored, study-specific, and culturally and linguistically appropriate. The Diverse eCohort team will provide in-kind support for online portal development, project management, graphic design, language translation, strategies for ongoing community engagement, and assistance in recruiting diverse participants for 1 year.  Research teams must be self-supporting (no salary support or other direct funding is provided through this opportunity) and have a plan for sustaining their eCohort for at least 1 additional year (through Fall 2020) after support from the UCSF Diverse eCohorts team ends in Fall 2019.

Winning proposals will benefit from:

  • Custom design and development of an online portal that can enable electronic consent, online surveys, and data collection from the UCSF EHR and wearable devices (if relevant).  We will be using the Eureka Research Platform tailored to the proposed eCohort.

  • Support for engagement with community organizations that will consult on designing the eCohort to be attractive to African American, Chicano, Latino, Indigena and Chinese participants, and will assist with participant recruitment from these communities.


All UCSF faculty, trainees, and staff are eligible to submit proposal ideas if they meet the University’s PI-Status guidelines.

 Review Criteria

  • Racial, cultural and linguistic diversity of your planned cohort

  • Cultural appropriateness of the study design and approach

  • Your plan for use of online digital technology, suitability for the intended population, and rationale for why it will enhance your planned cohort

  • The relevance and potential health impact of the proposed research on the community/ies being served, and your dedication to engaging with community partner leadership and staff to maximize that impact

  • Demonstration of self-supporting status for your research team and cohort through at least Fall 2020

Proposal Format

In no more than 2 pages, please describe your Cohort Study, and why you are seeking support for an online engagement platform that will help you enroll diverse study participants.  In particular, please describe:

  • Your research questions, why they are important to the community/ies served and how your research will benefit from enrolling diverse participants using an online engagement platform.  Use non-technical language so your rationale will be compelling to our community stakeholders, who will participate in the evaluation of these submissions.

  • Your proposed study sample, whether it includes UCSF patients, other community members who are not UCSF patients, and key inclusion/exclusion criteria.  Please describe whether you would like to include non-English language speakers in your study, and if so which language(s).

  • What measurements you will collect over time, and how you would propose to use the Eureka Research Platform to assist in this capacity.

  • Your team, including any relationships or past work with community partners.

  • Your plan for funding and sustainability.  Please specifically address how your research team is supported, and how you would continue to support recruitment and/or data collection for your cohort through at least Fall 2020.


  • June 20 - July 31: Submit Draft Proposals
    • Develop and submit a 2-page preliminary proposal 
    • Subscribe to email updates to view new proposals and comments
    • Express interest in joining a team if you see proposals you want to join
  • Aug 1 - August 31: Improve Proposals - Comment Period Now Closed
    • UCSF and community partners are invited to comment and ask questions.
    • Browse proposals and comment to improve others' proposals
    • Review comments on your own proposal, answer questions and revise if necessary
  • Sept 1 - Final Proposals Due
    • Address all questions, as needed
    • Revise and submit final proposals if needed
  • Sept 4-7: Review and Scoring of Final Proposals and Submitted Comments
    • Selection committee, comprised of community partners and UCSF research leadership, reviews and chooses winning proposals
    • Awards Announced no later than Sept 17