Clinical Study Coordination Services

The BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine offers efficient and effective research services that support the conduct of high impact clinical and translational research.

Emergency Department Research Coordinator (EDRC) Program

Established in 2016, the EDRC Program is a cutting-edge clinical research study coordination service available to researchers across University of Wisconsin–Madison. Our team of highly trained staff is integrated into the BerbeeWalsh Emergency Department at UW Health to screen, consent, and enroll patients into research studies.

EDRC team members can collect behavioral and survey data using measurements, standardized surveys, and qualitative interviews, and partner with nursing staff to collect and store biological specimens, including blood, saliva, and urine.

We are able to support research projects funded by federal, foundation, and industry sponsors, including device trials and development of other diagnostic tools. Investigators from UW–Madison, other universities or private companies may request our services.

Request a Consultation
Please call or email to request a consultation:

Phoebe Natzke, MS
Research Services Manager
(608) 263-6690

Our Services & Capabilities

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We make participant recruitment and data collection from a diverse patient population in the ED a reality

The emergency department (ED) at University Hospital cares for 180 patients per day on average. Here our providers deliver exceptional patient-centered emergency care as part of an operationally efficient health system at UW Health, the integrated health system of the University of Wisconsin.

Our ED is one of just two academic medical centers in the state. It is certified as a Level 1 Trauma and Burn Center and is a busy quaternary care center.

Our team can effectively identify and enroll patients and visitors in the ED, with over 100,000 individuals eligible annually. This population is diverse in terms of demographic and clinical characteristics, and represents the full lifespan from birth to old age. Staff members can perform consent and simple procedures for research studies or obtain permission to contact.

The ED cares for patients from a variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. We partner with UW Health’s Translation Services to be able to include individuals with non-English Language Preference in screening and recruitment.

We ensure study protocols are feasible for recruiting in a fast-paced clinical environment

All research protocols to be implemented by the EDRC Program are reviewed by a team of Department of Emergency Medicine research faculty to ensure they meet appropriate rigor and feasibility for successful recruitment.

EDRC Program staff partner with emergency department clinical staff to effectively recruit patients into appropriate research opportunities during the patient’s stay in the ED.

Our staff receive training and have the know-how to appropriately engage with patients and their families during complex healthcare experiences.

We strategize methods to deliver efficient mechanisms for participant recruitment

Our staff have experience recruiting for a wide variety of studies, encompassing a variety of patient populations and acuities, with many types of study teams.

We have the knowledge and skills to identify factors that interface with successful recruitment, and work with investigators to develop strategies for appropriately approaching patients during their stay in the emergency department.

We rigorously adhere to study protocols and accurately complete study procedures

Our staff are trained to adhere to HIPAA regulations and always protect the privacy and security of patients’ and research participants’ Protected Health Information (“PHI”) as required by law.

Investigators can be assured that our research coordinators operate with precision and follow protocols exactly as approved by the UW Institutional Review Board or other governing body.

Our team performs informed consent procedures and enrolls patients using a variety of electronic data capture systems to communicate with study teams. We work with study teams to ensure that EDRC Program staff are proficient in tools required for the administration of study activities.

Our team is also able to collect biological specimens, including blood, saliva, and urine. Team members are also well versed in methods for processing and storing these samples.

We advance quality improvement projects and initiatives

In addition to supporting novel research, the EDRC Program assists with quality improvement projects and initiatives at UW Health.

Such projects have included conducting patient surveys regarding implementation of the Healthcare Fraud And The False Claims Act (FCA), assisting nursing staff with completing COVID-19 forms early in the pandemic, and supporting care teams with infection control measures and isolation precautions.

Studies Currently Enrolling in the Emergency Department

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All of Us

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is part of a nationwide effort to gather health data from more than 1 million people to help accelerate innovation in health care research. The mission of All of Us is simple: to speed up health research and medical breakthroughs. In addition, the program is focused on precision medicine, seeking to make health care more personalized with considerations for an individual’s environment, lifestyle and family health history. Researchers will be able to use these data to conduct thousands of studies, which may help them discover and match the right treatment to the right person at the right time.

For questions, please contact Andrea Gilmore-Bykovskyi, PhD, RN, at


All of Us research program: the future of health begins with you

Data Driven Strategies for Substance Misuse Identification in Hospitalized Patients

Background: The prevalence of substance misuse in hospitalized patients is estimated to be 15%-25% and far exceeds the prevalence in the general population. With over 35 million hospitalized patients per year, tens of millions of patients are not screened for substance misuse during their stay. Despite the recommendation for self-report questionnaires screening rates remains low in hospitals. Current screening methods are resource-intensive.

Aim: This study proposes the use of a comprehensive and automated approach to substance misuse screening that will augment current clinical workflow would therefore be of great utility.

Primary researcher: Majid Afshar, MD, MSCR, assistant professor, Department of Medicine, UW School of Medicine and Public Health

Evaluation of the MeMed BV® Test in Adult Emergency Department Patients with Fever and Acute Respiratory Symptoms

Background: Since bacterial and viral infections are clinically indistinguishable, physicians are often challenged to decide whether to treat with antibiotics or not. Conventional tests for diagnosis have limitations, including false alarms, prolonged time to results, and poor performance for emerging pathogens. Diagnostic uncertainty leads to antibiotic misuse, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noting that antibiotics are both overused (40% of cases) and underused (20% of cases).

Aim: The purpose of this observational study is to evaluate the potential clinical impact on antibiotic prescribing patterns and cost with utilization of the MeMed BV®, a host-immune response test that is FDA approved to distinguish bacterial and viral respiratory infections. Implementation of the MeMed BV® test into the clinical workflow could reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing for suspected acute respiratory infections and reduce unnecessary utilization of chest imaging and/or hospital admission.

Additionally, researchers will assess operational feasibility and develop a draft protocol for clinical implementation at the UW Hospitals and Clinics. This evaluation is an opportunity to assess MeMed BV® potential impact on clinical decision making at the institutional level in a small sample size trial of approximately 200 participants.

Primary researcher: Michael Pulia, MD, PhD, director of the emergency care for infectious diseases research program, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine

Implementing MedSMA℞T Families in the Emergency Department Setting: A Game-based Approach for Improving Opioid Safety Among Adolescents and Parents

Aim: MedSMA℞T Families is a digital health intervention study that combines the mobile game MedSMA℞T: Adventures in PharmaCity with a digital personalized family medication plan to promote communication between adolescents and their families about safe prescription opioid use. Implementation of MedSMA℞T Families in the ED setting provides healthcare staff with an effective tool for improving patient care by addressing their opioid knowledge gaps and promoting positive health behaviors in the home.

Primary researchers: This study is led by co-PI’s Dr. Allie Hurst, assistant professor, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine, UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and Dr. Olufunmilola Abraham, assistant professor, UW School of Pharmacy

Improving Patient Classification and Outcome Measurement in Traumatic Brain Injury

Background: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a very common injury with no effective treatments. Many clinical trials on traumatic brain injury (TBI) have failed in the past due to knowledge gaps on the heterogeneity of patient profiles and limitations in clinical outcome measurements.

Aim: This study aims to better understand TBI sub-types and to identify more precise outcome measures to facilitate how research is conducted on TBI. This study will use a novel analytic approach to advance knowledge about how to classify patients with TBI and measure outcomes, which could transform how neurobiological and treatment research of TBI is conducted and facilitate the identification of effective treatments.

EDRC Program services: The ED research coordinators will complete multiple visits with patients for this longitudinal study. The acute visit occurs at the initial emergency department (ED) counter and includes data collection regarding past medical history and the mechanism of injury. Subsequent visits include standardized cognitive assessments and formal and informal questionnaires to understand functioning prior to injury. Coordinators will also obtain specimens from each patient for analyses aimed at identifying biomarkers present during each phase of recovery.

Primary researchers: This study is led by Dr. Marin Darsie, assistant professor, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine, in collaboration with Lyndsay Nelson, PhD, ABPP, associate professor, Brain Injury Research Program, Medical College of Wisconsin.

Mobile Subthreshold Exercise Program (M-STEP) for Concussion

Aim: 1.9 million youth sustain a concussion each year and 15-30% experience persistent post-concussive symptoms (PPCS). Research indicates that gradual increases in exercise below the threshold that induces symptoms (subthreshold exercise) could facilitate recovery. This randomized controlled clinical trial will assess the efficacy of the Mobile Subthreshold Exercise Program (M-STEP) for youth with PPCS. The intervention will occur over 6 weeks and youth will be followed for 6 months.

Primary researcher: M. Alison Brooks, MD, MPH, associate professor, Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, UW School of Medicine and Public Health

Operationalizing Sex Trafficking Screening in an Academic Emergency Department: A Quality Initiative

Aim: This project initiates child sex trafficking screening using a prior, electronic, validated screening tool in the pediatric emergency department at the American Family Children’s Hospital using quality improvement methodology.

Primary researcher: Allie Hurst, MD, MS, assistant professor, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine

Post-Discharge Cognitive Trajectories among Older Emergency Department Patients: A Pilot Study

Aim: Accelerated cognitive decline has been demonstrated among older adults without dementia who experience medical care. Many studies have explored how aspects of clinical care delivery and patient-level factors can increase the risk for short-term cognitive impairments and longer-term cognitive decline following hospitalization or surgery, but few have evaluated associations between emergency department (ED) care without hospitalization and cognitive changes after discharge. This pilot project aims to assess the feasibility of longitudinally measuring short-term and longer-term cognitive changes among older adults receiving ED care without hospitalization and to characterize the ED care delivery, patient-level, and post-care factors associated with these changes.

Primary researchers: Manish Shah, MD, MPH, professor and chair, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine; Lindsay Clark, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Medicine, UW School of Medicine and Public Health; Megan Zuelsdorff, PhD, assistant professor, UW School of Nursing

Redefining Community Acquired Pneumonia in Older Adults: The Role and Impact of Aspiration

Aim: Pneumonia is the most common infectious cause of mortality in older adults. Standard practice for older adults with pneumonia involves hospitalization and antibiotics. However, recent studies suggest that a significant portion of suspected community-acquired bacterial pneumonia cases may actually be due to distinct, dysphagia-related aspiration syndromes (e.g. aspiration pneumonia, pneumonitis). This study will utilize diagnostic imaging to generate a prevalence estimate for aspiration in older adults diagnosed with pneumonia or with suspected pneumonia for dysphagia, as well as determine rates of recurrent pneumonia in this population.

Primary researchers: This study is led by Michael Pulia, MD, PhD, director of the emergency care for infectious diseases research program, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine, in collaboration with Nicole Rogus-Pulia, PhD, CCC-SLP, director of the swallowing and salivary bioscience laboratory, Department of Medicine, UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

Funding: UW Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education

The Experience of Limited English Proficiency Patients after Discharge from the Emergency Department

Aim: This study will understand how Spanish-speaking Limited English Proficiency (LEP) patients experience the emergency department with a particular focus on exploring feelings of respect, responsiveness, preferences, needs, values and use of patient preferences, needs, and values in guiding clinical decisions and outcomes. The study consists of conducting interviews with Spanish-speaking LEP patients after discharge to explore overall experience, recall and comprehension of the diagnosis they received, how that diagnosis was arrived upon, and treatment plan for after discharge including medication changes and follow-up appointments.

Primary researcher: Rebecca Schwei, MPH, researcher, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine

Workflow for Bedside Orthopedic Procedures in the Emergency Department: Where We Are and Where We’re Going

Background: The focus for this study is bedside reductions performed with support from Orthopedic Surgery in the emergency department. Thoughtful planning and implementation of an analgesia and anxiolysis plan is key to providing the best experience for the patient and the interdisciplinary healthcare team.

Aim: This study seeks to identify possible workflow adjustments to improve the experience of bedside orthopedic procedures in the emergency department.

Primary researcher: Joshua Gauger, MD, MBA, assistant professor, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine; with emergency medicine residents Jennifer Mirrielees, MD, MS, PGY-3, and Nicolas Rubel, MD, PGY-2

Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We share UW–Madison’s commitment to creating a community where every person feels welcome, valued, and able to succeed. We view diversity as a source of strength, creativity, and innovation and value the contributions of each person with respect for the profound ways their identity, culture, background, experience, status, abilities, and opinion enrich our university and community.

Beyond this, we view diversity and equitable inclusion as inextricably linked to our goals as a team and research unit and understand the critical work of disrupting cycles of structural and systemic discrimination and exclusion to achieve these goals.