Epidemiology Research Core

Overview of Services


The Epidemiology Research Core (ERC) mission is to support population-based research by accessing metropolitan Detroit cancer cases and cancer registry data for use in approved research. The ERC provides epidemiology expertise and collaborates with researchers conducting investigations in cancer prevention, etiology, treatment and outcomes. This type of population-based cancer research is made possible by ERC accessing this data on behalf of researchers, which ensures confidentiality. The ERC mission is achieved through the following services: Consultation, Rapid Case Ascertainment, Control Identification, Research Support and Training, Collection and Abstraction of Medical Records, Biospecimen Collection, Database Query and Database linkage.

These objectives are achievable because WSU and KCI house the Metropolitan Detroit Cancer Surveillance System (SEER), an NCI-funded population-based Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) cancer registry covering the metropolitan Detroit population of almost four million residents. This population represents a large number of minorities, with ~22% of the ~25,000 annual cancer diagnoses in the SEER catchment area being African American, making this an important population for the study of health disparities. The ERC benefits researchers by centralizing and standardizing access to SEER data and by performing any necessary patient, physician and hospital interactions for research relying on identification of and access to study participants for population-based research.

SEER data are complex and require knowledge of and expertise in use of the complicated data management system. Furthermore, strict confidentiality measures must be maintained. Core faculty and staff have extensive expertise in using both local and national SEER data and provide the necessary support for access and utilization of these data for population-based investigations of cancer prevention, etiology, treatment and outcomes.



Jennifer Beebe-Dimmer MPH, PhD, ERC Scientific Director, Associate Professor, Wayne State University, School of Medicine, Department of Oncology, 4100 John R. MM04EP, Detroit, MI 48201. Phone (313) 578-4209, Fax (313) 578-4306. Email dimmerj@karmanos.org

Fawn D. Vigneau JD, MPH, ERC Co-Director, Karmanos Cancer Institute, WSU, School of Medicine, Department of Oncology, 4100 John R. MM04EP, Detroit, MI 48201. Phone (313) 578-4231, Fax (313) 578-4306. Email vigneauf@med.wayne.edu

Tricia Arballo-Spong, ERC Manager, Karmanos Cancer Institute,  WSU, School of Medicine, Department of Oncology, 4100 John R. MM04EP, Detroit, MI 48201. Phone (313) 578-4235, Fax (313) 578-4306. Email arballop@med.wayne.edu


Karmanos Cancer Institute,
4th floor Mid-Med Office Building,
87 E. Canfield, Detroit MI, 48201.


Links and Resources

A detailed description of the services provided through the ERC can be found at:


Please note the links within this page in the upper right-hand corner to: “Services & Fees” and “Resources, Facilities & Instrumentation”.



Acknowledgment of ERC/SEER in Publications

When publishing data that originated from local SEER-run studies or data for which you received Epidemiology Research Core (ERC) support, please acknowledge our funding sources, as follows:


 This project was funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Dept. of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHSN261201300011I.  The Epidemiology Research Core is supported, in part, by NIH Center grant P30 CA022453 to the Karmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State University.


List of Services

Search available services:
Name Description Price
Biospecimen Collection

Collection of biologic specimens, including blood, buccal cells, saliva and urine, from study participants and/or diagnosing hospitals including KCI and non-KCI facilities. 

Collection and Abstraction of Medical Records

Collection of medical records and abstracting of study-specific data, which are not available in the MDCSS registry.


Consultation and collaborative research expertise focused on study design, proposal development, IRB applications, and interpretation of population-based local and national SEER data. Consultation charges can be waived if other ERC services are budgeted

Control Identification

Identification of population-based control groups for case-control study designs via random digit dialing, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) records, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) records, and other mechanisms.

Database Linkage

Linkage of outside data sources to MCDSS data for the collection of patient demographics, treatment and survival data

Database Query

Response to requests for population-based data requiring query of the MDCSS and/or the national SEER Limited-Use data files for descriptive analyses.

Rapid Case Ascertainment

Rapid identification and ascertainment of eligible study participants, requiring review of all pathology reports indicating a cancer diagnosis at approximately 60 metropolitan area hospitals, clinics, pathology laboratories and radiation therapy facilities and rapid collection of patient demographic information. This speeds up case identification for population-based studies, with most cases identified within two to three months of diagnosis.

Research Support and Training

Regulatory oversight and research training support of study staff involved in studies in which participants are being contacted.

Tissue Retrieval

Collection of biologic tissue specimens, including tumor blocks and H&E stained slides and unstained slides from diagnosing hospitals including KCI and non-KCI facilities. Tumor Collection from KCI facilities is coordinated with the KCI Biorepository Core.



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