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Improving the transplant system with collaborative research

Improving the transplant system with collaborative research
UNOS Principal Research Scientist Darren Stewart describes the start of UNOS Labs and talks about the first two experiments on physician offer-acceptance behavior.


UNOS staff regularly collaborate with members and industry experts on projects to improve the transplant system and increase the number of transplants performed.

In order to further such work, we created a virtual research center known as UNOS Labs. UNOS Labs is an experimental incubator that brings together data, technology, and industry expertise.

We use UNOS Labs to find out if a transformational idea will work or a hypothesis on ways to improve the transplant is true. It is not an academic exercise or theoretical playground, but a place where we can test products, tools, and methods for insights to improve the system. A project or study must meet the following criteria to be a UNOS Labs study:

  • Experimental – Needs scientific investigation to answer question or test validity
  • Micro-oriented – Starts small with potential to scale to larger system
  • High risk – Lacks sufficient data to know if it’s going to work or fail
  • Data-driven – Relies on newly created data to inform decisions
  • Collaborative –Relies on partnering with industry (transplant and/or non-transplant) experts

Pillars of UNOS Labs

UNOS Labs experiments and projects fall into three major areas.

  1. Technology Innovations – Collaborate with industry leaders to deploy new tools and technologies to strengthen system performance
  2. Behavioral Research – Partner with human behavior experts to study the impacts of human interactions on the system
  3. Data Science – Test new algorithms, types of data, models, and advanced analytics to uncover actionable insights

After UNOS Labs
Work from UNOS Labs will lead down different paths. OPTN committees could use some results to inform policy development. Staff could implement improvements identified into UNet. Some data may identify the need for further research. Other projects could turn into value-added services we offer the transplant community.

To learn how you can be part of UNOS Labs, email us at [email protected].

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