About UNOS Labs℠

Testing products, tools and methods to improve the transplant system

About UNOS LabsSM

UNOS’ privately funded virtual research center brings together data, technology innovations, behavioral research and industry expertise to test transformational ideas and hypotheses for improving the transplant system.

Since January 2018, UNOS has invested more than $1.1 million to support this important initiative through research, innovation and collaboration with the transplant and broader scientific communities.

How does it work?

An experimental incubator, UNOS LabsSM is a place to try out new ideas and to “fail fast, fail better” through extensive testing and incremental development. It enables our researchers to develop innovative solutions to improve the national organ network and increase organ utilization, and it gives UNOS the opportunity to test new technologies before committing to investing resources into the national transplantation system.

UNOS Labs projects fall into three main areas:

  • Behavioral research – studying the impact of human interactions with the transplant system
  • Data science – testing new algorithms and advanced analytics to uncover actionable insights
  • Technology innovations – deploying new tools and technologies to strengthen system performance

Case studies

Implemented nationally in July 2019, the Kidney Accelerated Placement project began as a UNOS LabsSM initiative. It is designed to create a pathway to accelerate the placement of extremely hard-to-place kidneys via the UNOS Organ Center. UNOS Labs designed the project, assuming all research and development project costs before providing the project to the OPTN.

Rolling out nationally in early 2020, the UNOS medical image sharing pilot project also began in UNOS LabsSM. When implemented in UnetSM, UNOS’ secure computer network linking all organ procurement organizations and transplant centers, it will create the first national donor image sharing hub. Organ procurement organizations and donor and transplant hospitals will have universal reliable access to high-quality medical imaging studies during the organ offer process.

More improvement projects underway

The UNOS Labs portfolio comprises a wide range of improvement initiatives that include:

  • Using natural language processing, machine learning and other innovative data science approaches to develop new insights for organ offer refusals
  • Using behavioral science to determine organ offer acceptance drivers
  • Developing predictive analytics that can help determine the impact of incorporating clinical decision support in the transplant system
  • Quantifying the components of cold ischemic time through a data collection feasibility study

How do ideas qualify for UNOS Labs?

UNOS LabsSM is a place to find out if a transformational idea will work. 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. To be studied in UNOS LabsSM a project must be:

  • 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

Read more

Our mission is to unite and strengthen the donation and transplant community to save lives.

About UNOS 

UNOS is a non-profit, charitable organization that serves as the nation’s Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) under contract with the federal government. The OPTN helps create and define organ allocation and distribution policies that make the best use of donated organs. This process involves continuously evaluating new advances and discoveries so policies can be adapted to best serve patients waiting for transplants. All transplant programs and organ procurement organizations throughout the country are OPTN members and are obligated to follow the policies the OPTN creates for allocating organs. 

For more information

Learn more about how UNOS LabsSM drives continuous improvement in the system to increase the number of transplants performed.

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