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National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)

For Immediate Release
Monday, January 26, 2009

Cindy McConnell

Three New Informatics Pilot Projects to Aid Clinical and Translational Scientists Nationwide

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded three contracts for pilot projects to improve informatics support for researchers conducting small- to medium-sized clinical studies. Each of the two-year contracts, which will total up to an estimated $4 million, represents a collaboration among individuals at three or more institutions that receive NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA). Administered by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), one of the CTSA program goals is to advance collaborations in clinical and translational research by interdisciplinary teams of investigators. These collaborations help enable the translation of rapidly evolving information developed in basic biomedical research into treatments and strategies to improve human health.

Informatics support includes systems that store, process and facilitate the exchange of information. The pilot projects will be led by Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio; University of Washington, Seattle; and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.

"These projects, which will build on the existing strong informatics expertise at the institutions, will promote new ways in which to enable researchers to collaborate and communicate across the CTSA consortium and with other partners in their research," said NCRR Director Barbara M. Alving, M.D. "The projects are one important part of a larger effort to achieve the potential of clinical and translational science and reduce the time it takes to develop new treatments for disease."

The Case Western Reserve University project, headed by Susan Redline, M.D., M.P.H. and G.Q. Zhang, Ph.D., includes investigators from the Marshfield Clinic, University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Michigan. This team will develop Physio-MIMI, an informatics infrastructure for collecting, managing and analyzing diverse data types across institutions. Researchers will be able to more effectively and efficiently collaborate in national studies that include many complex data sources and types, such as heart or brain monitoring data and genomic information. A key component of the system will allow secure, safe and regulated transfer of information from clinical care systems and research databases.

The University of Washington project, led by Nicholas Anderson, Ph.D., will develop a mechanism allowing researchers at three large, geographically distributed medical centers to easily access large shared data sets to assist in designing research studies and generating hypotheses. This team, which includes investigators from the University of California, Davis, and the University of California, San Francisco, will extend Harvard University's i2b2 software architecture to support cross-institution searches. This project will provide model policies and procedures to advance multi-institutional sharing of clinical data in support of research.

The Vanderbilt University project, headed by Paul Harris, Ph.D., includes investigators from Oregon Health and Sciences University and Mayo Clinic. This team will extend the capabilities of the Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) system. REDCap is a software toolset that provides research teams with an easy workflow to rapidly develop secure, Web-based applications for collecting, managing and appropriate sharing of clinical study data. The project's enhancements will make the system useful to a significantly greater number of studies and facilitate national and international collaborations. REDCap currently supports approximately 300 studies across an international consortium of 31 institutions.

Full project descriptions provided by each lead institution, as well as a list of project partner institutions, are available at www.ncrr.nih.gov/ctsa/informatics.

Software resulting from these pilot projects will be freely available to biomedical researchers, educators and institutions in the nonprofit sector. The terms of availability will permit broad adoption of the tools and also allow for commercialization of enhanced or customized versions.

The funding for these pilot projects is provided by the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research/Common Fund.

Booz Allen Hamilton, a strategy and technology consulting firm, provided facilitation and logistical support for the pilot project contract awards through a contract with NCRR.

NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards currently support 38 medical research institutions sharing a common vision to reduce the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients, engage communities in clinical research efforts and train the next generation of clinical researchers. For more information, visit www.ctsaweb.org.

.NCRR, a part of NIH, provides laboratory scientists and clinical researchers with the resources and training they need to understand, detect, treat and prevent a wide range of diseases. NCRR supports all aspects of translational and clinical research, connecting researchers, patients and communities across the nation. For more information, visit www.ncrr.nih.gov.The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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