Project Structure

The consortium comprises three units, or cores, each responsible for one of the following areas of operation:

Core A – Military Research Consortium Executive Management

The Executive Management Core (Core A) has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the MSRC’s overall mission is accomplished successfully, with proper vision and oversight. This Core facilitates and evaluates the operation of the MSRC, including supervising the operation of the other three Cores, the training of pre-doctoral and postdoctoral scholars, and the research program. Core A (in conjunction with Core B) coordinates public relations activities to alert the public to suicidal behavior as a massive public health problem, and to explain how the activities of the MSRC are striving to address the problem in the military. Core A is also charged with developing procedures for publication and data dissemination. This Core manages dispute resolution related to these areas. Importantly, Core A coordinates the external review of MSRC activities through an external advisory board of international experts on suicidal behavior and military mental health.

Core A is headed by: Dr. Thomas Joiner, Florida State University and Dr. Peter Gutierrez, VISN 19 MIRECC. Additionally, the Consortium partners with the Department of Defense specifically:

  • U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command; and
  • Military Operational Medicine Research Program (MOMRP)

Core A facilitates the development of an evidence-based comprehensive military suicide prevention approach that includes risk screening, assessment, and prevention and intervention efforts across all service branches of the military. Its functions include:

  • Pool military and civilian efforts to support military-related research initiatives from multiple practice areas, such as behavioral health, emergency departments and primary care clinics;
  • Understand that suicide has multiple, complex risk factors: Suicide prevention must have multidimensional approaches and solutions;
  • Awareness of unique stressors facing Service members, military civilians, and families today, and continues to address these issues on several fronts; and
  • Recognizes that the mental health of our Service members is just as important as their physical health, which is why we continue to develop mental health training and awareness programs for Service members and their families.

Core B – Information Management and Scientific Communication, and Research Monitoring

The Information Management/Scientific Communications Core (Core B) has knowledge, information, and findings through a variety of methods appropriate for decision makers, practitioners, and others who are accountable for ensuring the mental health of military personnel. The goals of Core B include a rapid response function so that queries from decision makers and others of the MSRC will be answered in an efficient and timely manner. Technical assistance and support for decision makers and others is an integral aspect of this MSRC function. This aspect of MSRC warehouses knowledge about suicidal behavior in general, so that military issues can be informed in a comprehensive manner.

Another aspect of the core's work is monitoring current military and civilian research relevant to the mission of the MSRC. Their work is in part informed by input from the Military External Advisory Board (MEAB). Core B staff members are constantly monitoring the major publication data bases for new publications on military suicide and suicide in military-aged adults, conducted in the United States and abroad. Core B contacts authors of these articles and requests information about on-going research projects and unpublished findings which are of relevance to the MSRC. Core B monitors current MOMRP, CDMRP, and TATRC funded projects and receives regular status reports from the PIs of those projects. The Core also collects regular status reports from the NIMH-Army collaborative suicide study (i.e., Army-STARRS). MOAs are negotiated with all project PIs detailing the parameters of the data sharing and use.

A secondary purpose of this core is to allow the MSRC to better design research projects that address gaps in the current knowledge base, extend existing work, and leverage in-process research. Core B's Denver staff are a major resource to MSRC researchers when developing and implementing new projects, and facilitates collaborations with non-MSRC researchers. Additionally, an essential function of this Core is to provide oversight for all MSRC activities with specific reference to military relevance (relevance to mission, sensitivity to military culture).

Core C – Database/Statistical Management

The Database Management/Statistical Core (Core C) coordinates MSRC activities and assures quality of data management and analyses across the MSRC. An overriding objective of Core C is to play the role of Data Coordinating Center. As such, Core C is to provide support to the research projects and to Core B in three broadly defined areas: Data Collection, Data Management, and Data Analysis. Specific objectives include facilitation of data collection, development of tools and procedures for ensuring and monitoring the accuracy and confidentiality of all collected data, development of tools and procedures to aid the Principal Investigators of research projects in providing scientific oversight and administration of the MSRC, facilitation of communication and sharing of data among investigators and to Core B, and provision of statistical support and analyses to investigators in the evaluation of MSRC project hypotheses.

A key interface is between Core C and Core B. Core B needs data and findings from Core C to carry out its mission of warehousing information and providing information rapidly in response to queries. Core C needs input from Core B to calibrate its data acquisition, management, and analysis functions to suit the needs of the overall MSRC.

Core C staff construct uniform database (UDS) structures across projects to the extent possible, in order to minimize redundancy in effort across projects. Variable format libraries are made consistent for all projects, and complete data books and code books are constructed by Core C staff for all project specific databases as well as for the Core C master demographic database. An important role for Core C is to provide assistance to project investigators in the statistical evaluation of scientific hypotheses. Dialogue among investigators and Core C staff is crucial to successful interdisciplinary research and the successful application of advanced statistical models to complex scientific hypotheses.