The Merck-Regenstrief Collaboration

For more than 125 years, our mission has focused on saving and improving lives. It's fair to say that we've learned a lot about medicine and health care. One of the things we understand well is the importance of collaborating with other leading scientific organizations to help find potential health care solutions.


In 2012, Merck and Regenstrief, both leaders in their respective fields, entered into a multi-year collaboration – an agreement that was recently renewed. The goal? To use their respective resources and years of expertise collaboratively to discover new insights in health care. In that time, they've worked together on a range of projects which use de-identified clinical data to identify opportunities to better tailor care to a patient's unique characteristics and needs. Ultimately, the Merck-Regenstrief Collaboration seeks to improve the health of patients through data analytics, health care innovation, education and research.

Science is a team sport… Learning the perspectives and collaborating with Merck scientists have enabled us to pursue research in a way we haven't done before. It's helped inform the tools that have been created.

—Regenstrief investigator and acting director of its Center for Biomedical Informatics, Shaun Grannis, M.D., M.S., F.A.A.F.P.

Both parties bring something different to the table... We bring different perspectives and viewpoints but one unified goal: to get patients access to care in an affordable, effective, and efficient way.

—Susan Shiff, Ph.D., senior vice president of Merck's Center for Observational and Real-World Evidence (CORE)

CORE is the arm of Merck that harnesses real-world and observational data to provide the best available information on the value of our medicines and the products that we bring to the market.





There have been more than 70 scientists involved in the Merck-Regenstrief Collaboration since its inception. And in that time, they've done more than 50 projects and over 30 publications, presentations and posters. They've been able to figure out new methods and approaches to doing analyses, as well as new ways of interpreting the information that they're deriving from real-world data.

Both Merck and The Regenstrief Institute see the collaboration as a different way of looking at the patient's interaction with the health care system, whether it's within a pharmacy, a provider or clinician office setting, or even in conversations about their health symptoms.


According to Dr. Grannis, "It's exciting to be in the room with Merck and Regenstrief scientists… because we want to make an impact on the world, and we believe that the questions we're tackling, the innovations we're contemplating will have real-world impact."

"We know that in any creative or innovative initiative, there are going to be failures. We learn from our failures so we take risks. We know that some of our ideas are going to fall on the cutting room floor and some are going to be hits. We're going to knock them out of the park. But it's important that we do take those risks in order to learn," Dr. Grannis added. "Merck has been willing to take risks with us, and that's what's really made this work."


Real world data is the accumulation of data and information that is coming from medical centers, doctors, medical claims, pharmacies and other health care sources that aren't traditional clinical trials. It's the information that is produced in the day-to-day care of patients.

"This data is extremely important because it begins to provide us with greater insights into the totality of information of how a patient experiences a therapy in a real-world setting and a better understanding of how patients travel through the health care system," says Dr. Shiff. "By gaining a more complete understanding of what's happening in the real world as opposed to just what's seen in clinical trials, we will gain a fuller picture of the effectiveness of the therapies that we bring to market."

Frankly, I think the sky's the limit. We have established very important working relationships and you can't underestimate the value of human relationships in any collaborative process. Together, we have a platform that we see being used to advance the art and science of data science that we believe will lead to real-world innovations to improve health care.

—Sean Grannis


The Regenstrief Institute is a not-for-profit health care think tank based in Indianapolis on the campus of Indiana University. An internationally respected informatics and health care research organization, The Regenstrief Institute is recognized for its role in improving quality of care, increasing efficiency of health care delivery, preventing medical errors and enhancing patient safety. It was founded in 1969 by Sam Regenstrief, a philanthropist and dishwasher magnate who recognized that engineering principles could be applied to improve the health care system. Its mission was an auspicious one for the time: to study the efficiency of health care and the ease with which ordinary citizens could access it. Since that time, The Regenstreif Institute has grown to become a global leader in biomedical informatics, health services and aging research.