The research arm of investment banking firm Goldman Sachs will look to promote Epocrates’ market research services as part of a new deal the companies announced yesterday.

Financial terms of the three-year agreement were not disclosed.

The chaperone will be Hudson Street, a Goldman Sachs business which will seek to connect Epocrates to institutional clients for use in investigating pharma and biotech firms for potential investments.

“It’s primarily the buyside investors and portfolio managers who will be interested in our services, people who are evaluating companies to possibly make an investment in,” explained Kirk Loevner, chairman and CEO of Epocrates. “We have a highly targeted panel that they can reach.”

Epocrates claims to have 500,000 active clinician users in its subscriber base. Of those, 200,000 are active US physicians, and 145,000 of those have opted into the market research service, Loevner said.

Epocrates, also known for its clinical information and decision support tools, already works with about 150 market research firms. They are drawn to the vendor’s ability to tap into its physician panel, by specialty and by geography, and get answers to surveys.

Epocrates is not the first online health company to tempt Wall Street. On Sermo, the 40,000-strong online physician community, members discuss drugs, devices, treatments and protocols, often months before the information ends up in medical journals. Hedge funds, analysts and portfolio managers support the firm through subscriptions allowing them to view the discussion that takes place between doctors.

Physicians in Epocrates’ network receive honoraria for participating in surveys. As his company leverages its research capabilities, Loevner said he hopes to expand offerings.

“We will have lots of ways to contact the docs,” he said, “different methodologies using the Web and surveys.”