NCATS awards $25M to create National Center for Data to Health

Oregon Health & Science University to lead collaborative clinical and translational research infrastructure.

A five-year, $25 million grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science has been awarded to the Oregon Health & Science University to lead a consortium of universities and research organizations in creating a new National Center for Data to Health.

The aim of the national center is to integrate informatics activities across the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program, a network of more than 50 medical research institutions—called hubs—that have teamed to get treatments to patients more quickly.

“The goal is to unlock and coordinate the unique wealth of technologies and innovation that each participating institution brings. Team science, data sharing, use of informatics to integrate and analyze data and collaboration will ultimately improve the care of patients,” said OHSU’s Melissa Haendel, co-director of the NCATS-funded Biomedical Data Translator program, who will lead the new national center.

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OHSU will work with Northwestern University, University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Sage Bionetworks, The Scripps Research Institute, Washington University, the University of Iowa and the Jackson Laboratory on the new center to provide a collaborative clinical and translational research infrastructure.

The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., has been awarded nearly $3 million to build the high-performance and scalable data access infrastructure for the new national data center as well as to define community best practice for data processing and software implementations.

“We, as one site in this national center, will provide our expertise in data science,” says Chunlei Wu, associate professor of integrative structural and computational biology at TSRI and the site principal investigator on the grant. “Advances in data science are transforming how we conduct biomedical research in both translational and clinical fields. The key is to deliver relevant and up-to-date, ideally real-time, information to researchers in a more efficient way, given the sheer amount of data being produced every day.”

When it comes to building the data access infrastructure for national center, Wu sees advances in cloud computing as the enabling technology for highly scalable databases and database indexing. At the same time, he believes the challenge in creating an informatics ecosystem across the CTSA consortium will be in ensuring data standardization, modeling, and harmonization so that data produced locally by CTSA hubs are accessible in a coherent way for other hubs, as well as the overall research community.

“As a CTSA hub that has been emphasizing genomic and digital sensor bioinformatics, we are thrilled to help pave the data-to-health path with OHSU and a remarkable network of collaborators,” said Eric Topol, MD, professor of molecular medicine at TSRI, who also directs the Scripps Translational Science Institute, a member of the CTSA consortium.

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