Department of

Public Health Seminars:



Jordyn Wallenborn, Fourth Year PhD Student


Mission and history


Virginia ACORN is a collaborative partnership between primary care practices and a multidisciplinary team of researchers devoted to evaluating and improving the quality of primary health care. Research results are intended to inform and influence decisions along the continuum of service to patients, from research to practice and policy.


ACORN became one of the first registered practice-based research networks (PBRNs) in 1996, receiving support from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  Our network has a long-standing history of conducting innovative studies informed by our member practices and patients.  Findings from our work have advanced primary care, influenced policy locally and nationally, and improved the health of Virginians.  Since its creation, ACORN has had a consequential role in many pioneering initiatives: 

  • AHRQ’s inaugural funding to support the creation of PBRNs and development of novel PBRN research methods (1996-2002)
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Generalist Physician Faculty Scholars support to define the role of clinicians and quit lines for smoking cessation (1999-2004)
  • Participation in Prescription for Health to develop practical methods to promote health behavior change (2003-2007)
  • Multiple funding awards from AHRQ’s Health Information Technology portfolio to create, test, and help patients use practice portals for prevention (2007-2012)
  • Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute funding to understand patients’ cancer screening decision-making processes and needs (2012-2014)

What is a Practice-Based Research Network?

A practice-based research network, as defined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), is a “group[s] of primary care clinicians and practices working together to answer community-based healthcare questions and translate research findings into practice.”  Engaging the community of clinicians and patients in evidence-based quality improvement activities is essential to the success of PBRNs.