Population & Data Sciences Core (PDSC)

Introduction and Mission

There is an emerging understanding that autoimmune diseases (ADs) have ‘pre-clinical’ states during which early immune changes occur that drive the later development of clinically-apparent disease. Importantly, an emerging area of interest is mucosal inflammation and immunity during pre-clinical states that may be a key driver in some AD’s.

The recognition of ‘pre-clinical’ stages of AD’s has driven an expanding number of studies that seek to identify the early pathogenic mechanisms of development of AD’s, with the goal of ultimately being able to prevent these diseases. However, there are unique challenges and opportunities to studying pre-clinical ADs. These include unique aspects of study design and implementation to study pre-clinical states, as well as challenges around procuring data and biospecimens from individuals at-risk for future ADs, and in particular mucosal samples.

The Population and Data Sciences Core (PDSC) is part of the Center for Mucosal Immunology and Rheumatic Disease Pathogenesis (CMIR) which is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Mission of the PDSC is to support research into the mechanisms of AD development with a focus on the preclinical stages by providing consultative services as well as access to unique preclinical data and biospecimens.

Services Offered by the Population & Data Sciences Core

  • Consultative services on the design and implementation of research studies in preclinical ADs including but not limited to input on data collection and management, general analytic plan and biospecimen collection and processing.
  • Access to banked highly annotated biospecimens from cross-sectional and longitudinal studies involving unique populations at-risk for future AD’s, individuals with established AD’s as well as relevant controls. AD’s (both established and preclinical states) that will be available include rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Data and biospecimens that will be available include demographic data, clinical disease activity (when relevant), environmental exposures (including but not limited to vitamin and supplement use, tobacco use), limited HLA typing, and biospecimens to include serum, plasma, DNA and in some cases peripheral blood mononuclear cells as well as mucosal samples including stool, sputum and urine.
  • Opportunities to utilize the resources of the Population & Data Sciences Core to access a ‘living biobank’ of individuals to obtain new data and biospecimens from individuals with relevant pre-clinical states, established ADs and controls. AD’s include but are not limited to rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, spondyloarthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Facilitation of AD-related biomarker testing related to AD’s through interactions with Exsera Biolabs at the University of Colorado.

How to Utilize the Population & Data Sciences Core’s Services

  • The first step is to be become a Member of the CMIR.
  • After you have become a Member of the CMIR, please fill out the formstack to learn more about the Population and Data Sciences Core services and next steps to accessing Consultative Services, Data and Biospecimens or the Living Biobank. If you have questions about how to access our services or have questions please email marie.feser@cuanschutz.edu
  • Of note, Services of the Population and Data Sciences Core may include a fee depending on the type and extent of service, and the user (e.g. academic institution or industry). In addition, services will be delivered only after Consultation and appropriate completion of necessary materials that will depend on the project but can include completion of Institutional Review Board (IRB) materials, Materials Transfer Agreements (MTAs), Data Use Agreements (DUAs) or other relevant research agreements.

Population & Data Sciences Core Leadership

Director Kevin D. Deane, MD/PhD

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Dr. Deane is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He has been PI or Co-I on multiple observational studies of preclinical rheumatoid arthritis; in addition, he is the PI on the ongoing NIH-funded StopRA trial that is studying the role of hydroxychloroquine to prevent or delay the onset of rheumatoid arthritis in high-risk individuals.

Co-Director Jill M. Norris, MPH/PhD

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Dr. Norris is a Professor of Epidemiology and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health. She has been the PI or Co-I on multiple pre-clinical and epidemiological studies across a number of autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes, and others.

Statistician Brandie Wagner, PhD

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Dr. Wagner is an Associate Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Biostatistics and Informatics at the Colorado School of Public Health. She has worked extensively in analyses of complex cross-sectional and longitudinal data, including microbiome analyses and biomarker discovery.

Core Manager Marie L. Feser, MSPH

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Ms. Feser has extensive experience as project manager of multiple observational and clinical trials in autoimmune diseases. 

Data Manager LauraKay Moss, BS

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Ms. Moss has extensive experience in data management and delivery of high-quality datasets for analyses.


Contact Marie L. Feser, MSPH at marie.feser@cuanschutz.edu.

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