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 Epi 218

Database Management Systems
for Clinical Research
EPI 218 Summer 2014 (1 unit)

Application Deadline: July 14, 2014


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), which can also be used to store administrative information, such as patient contact information, exam schedules, reimbursement records, etc. Not only does the DBMS store data, it can check data accuracy, analyze the study data, or format the data for export to a statistical analysis package. Just as the clinical investigator must plan (and budget) for statistical analysis, she should also plan (and budget) for data management.

At the conclusion of this course, students will:

  • Understand the basics of developing a small, multi-table relational database for a research study
  • Be capable of designing and developing on-screen data collection forms using Microsoft Access™ and web-based forms using REDCap.
  • Understand the differences between desktop applications such as Access™ and web-based research data collection systems such as REDCap or QuesGen™.
  • 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 two-year period at a single hospital.




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:

Valerie French, MD
email: frenchv@obgyn.ucsf.edu

  Amy Gelfand, MD
email: gelfanda@neuropeds.ucsf.edu

Susan Lee, MD
email: lees4@anesthesia.ucsf.edu

  Meghan McGarry, MD
email: meghan.mcgarry@ucsf.edu
  Varun Saxena, MD
email: varun.saxena@ucsf.edu
  Frederick Wang, MD
email: frederick.wang@ucsfmedctr.org



Both an in-person and online version of the course are offered. The online version features the exact materials as the in-person version, with content being delivered through online recordings of the weekly lectures as well as online web conferencing for computer lab sections. The online version also features the same access to course faculty for discussion and questions as the in-person version.

  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.
    We strongly recommend that you bring a laptop to all lab sessions. Along with wireless Internet access, the computer lab at China Basin has a very limited number of computer terminals that may be used during labs.

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. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 4th Edition. 2013.

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

Microsoft Access

By the first session in the course, you should have access to and experience starting up Microsoft Access 2000 or higher (2003, 2007, or 2010).  Access is part of Microsoft Office Professional (but not Microsoft Office Standard). Students may own their version of Microsoft Office Professional or it will be available at no additional cost to all officially enrolled students in EPI 218 via their Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (DEB) Terminal Server account (see below).

Learn Microsoft Access 2000 [Video]. CompuWorks. A free online tutorial, found at:

Learn Microsoft Access Video (Username: "ucsfdbclass"; Password: "access2000")


REDCap is a web-based research data collection system developed by an academic consortium based at Vanderbilt. REDCap enables researchers to build data entry forms, surveys, and surveys with attached private data entry forms. The survey builder is similar to SurveyMonkey.  It is available free of charge through the UCSF Academic Research Systems. To request a REDCap account, fill out the form at:


You are both the Principal Investigator and User 1.


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

Terminal Server Account

A DEB terminal server account will provide (over the internet) a remote Windows desktop with Microsoft Office Professional.  The Remote Desktop client software is freely available for the Mac and is already installed on Windows machines.

Once you have received your username and password, please try to log into the Terminal Server.  Instructions are available at the following link:


Again, the Remote Desktop client for Apple Macintosh computers is freely available. This course does not require you to have a Windows computer.



For scholars applying for the online version: Scholarships may be available, upon justification, to scholars residing in countries with low income or lower middle income economies as defined by the World Bank. If you believe you are eligible for a scholarship, please send a justification of less than one page to Olivia DeLeon at olivia@epi.ucsf.edu. In the justification, include the country in which you reside, your current income, and your access, if any, to educational funds from local institutions. Please also send your curriculum vitae (CV). Note that the scholarship does not include cost of textbooks, any software, or any local costs associated with accessing a high-speed internet connection.