Resources and Environment

Brandeis University, located in Waltham, Mass., is a member of the Association of American Universities and is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Because of its research capabilities and size, Brandeis is able to combine the breadth of academic programs usually found at much larger universities.

Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Since its founding as Brandeis University’s first professional school in 1959, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management has been committed to developing new knowledge and insights in the field of social policy and in health and human services management. Through the education of students and pursuit of research, Heller is actively engaged in examining policies and programs that respond to the changing needs of vulnerable individuals and social groups in our society. Heller and its nationally renowned research centers and institutes have pioneered in a variety of policy areas including: health; substance use; mental health; disabilities; children, youth, and families; aging; and work, inequality, and social change. The Heller School includes ten research institutes and centers and offers a PhD in social policy as well as several master’s programs. In particular, the PhD program hosts a training grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) on alcohol-related health services research.

Schneider Institutes for Health Policy (SIHP)

The Schneider Institutes for Health Policy (SIHP), founded in 1978, incorporates the Institute for Behavioral Health, the Institute on Healthcare Systems, and the Institute for Global Health. For nearly forty years SIHP investigators have conducted studies, testified before legislative committees, served on public commissions, and played key advisory roles at both state and federal levels on acute, chronic and behavioral health care issues. SIHP currently conducts over 80 domestic and international studies on many different aspects of our key research areas of acute and chronic health care, behavioral health, and global health.

SIHP has achieved national recognition as a leading health care policy and research institution. Its staff frequently collaborate with other health services research organizations and outside partners, as well as with public and private service delivery systems that serve as laboratories for demonstrating and testing innovative financing and health care delivery strategies. SIHP examines a range of substantive issues that bridge the domains of health services and health policy research including access to and quality of care; how health care is financed, delivered, and utilized; the cost of such care; and the role of organizations in each of these domains. In many of its studies, SIHP focuses on the special problems of our most vulnerable populations, including the elderly and adolescents, individuals with chronic illness, and those with substance use problems and mental illness.

SIHP is comprised of approximately 50 individuals, including researchers with expertise in economics, medicine, public policy, public health, sociology, political science, psychology, and health care management, as well as affiliated graduate students, research support staff, and administrative staff. SIHP activities create a rich environment for graduate education and have prepared several generations of Heller students for leadership roles in both the public and private sectors. This combination of research, education and engagement in the "real world" positions SIHP as a unique think tank that excels in both the creation of new knowledge and its translation into state-of-the-art policies and services that make a difference.

New Investigators

The Heller School and SIHP are fully committed to the success of new and early stage investigators. This includes access to all available resources, including facilities, administrative staff, faculty, and other research staff, as needed to complete activities and tasks associated with the project. In addition, IBH has established a set of processes and a personnel pool from which to draw upon for research support, education and mentoring, quality assurance, and dissemination of research products and information. Some funds are available to support new investigators’ travel to professional conferences. Researchers representing a variety of fields, both within IBH and collaborators external to IBH, are called upon for research consultation as needed. New investigators also draw on the support offered by the core of the Brandeis/Harvard NIDA Center, including substantive and methodological expertise, seminars, and mentoring.

Brandeis University Facilities

Brandeis has extensive resources that ensure the successful completion of SIHP projects. Personnel are supported by integrated information systems with the flexibility to address all research, teaching, and operational needs, including solving the complex communication issues frequently associated with multi-site projects. The principal components of this technology system include the SIHP internal computer resources, and external resources through the University’s Information Technology Services (ITS), which maintains all networking and e-mail services and provides technical support. Other resources include the University libraries, including a specialized health policy library.

Libraries

The Brandeis University Libraries, with a staff of 65 employees, offer a combined collection of more than 250 databases and 30,000 electronic journals covering a wide range of subjects. Library databases search journals, newspapers, magazines, dissertations, government documents, and other digital content. The Libraries serve as a Government Repository for select public government documents and are also partners in the Boston Library Consortium, which provides access to most of the major libraries in the Greater Metropolitan Boston area.

SIHP Computer Resources

SIHP has dedicated servers to support the environment as well as secured research workstations in a virtualized networked environment to support a variety of project and data security needs. Data programmers use separate computers for data analysis and email/internet activities. Desktop data is backed up daily, and backup is available in the secure research environment depending on the specific needs of the project or security demands. Brandeis has a full fiber-optic backbone with additional upgrades installed on an ongoing basis as required. When required, research data can conform to HIPAA privacy requirements. Data on workstations can be encrypted and secure data transfer software is available on all workstations and servers. Sophisticated statistical computer programming capability is an integral component of SIHP expertise.

Data Security

As a premier research university, Brandeis handles data of a highly sensitive nature. The sensitivity is reflected by the requirements in the Data Use Agreements (DUAs) that Brandeis researchers are required to sign before data providers will release research data. Security measures include annual training for all programmers using sensitive data, storing data on terminal servers in locked rooms, unique IDs and complex passwords for all individuals with data access, retention of log files throughout the life of the project, and secure remote access. Any identified data can be stored on continuously encrypted hard drives. Backup copies of the data are kept separate from other backup files in a locked location. Data must be destroyed or returned upon expiration of the DUA.

SIHP has extensive experience working with highly sensitive personally identifiable data (PID). For projects with secure data, Brandeis houses data on secure workstations that are only accessible to authorized users. Each user has a unique, complex password that is changed on a regular basis. To avoid unnecessary risk from viruses, malware, trojan horses, and worms, these secure research workstations have no direct internet access and do not have trust relations with other Brandeis domains. All secure workstations use SSH software for secure data transfer. To avoid creating multiple copies of the data, statistical programs are backed up to a separate computer, but data files are never copied from the secure workstation. Intermediate data sets are destroyed as soon as they are no longer necessary. Data backups are performed regularly to a separate secure location on site when appropriate.

In addition to these specific activities, data security policies and practices are further reinforced by Brandeis University's Information Security Plan.