New CTSA Program Informatics Center to Create a Nationwide Data Ecosystem


Biomedical tools and technologies are evolving rapidly, enabling scientists to both generate and analyze more research data than ever before. But what happens when datasets become too large to share or when the data from various sources are so dissimilar that they cannot be combined easily with another related but different dataset? These types of data roadblocks slow or prevent the translation of scientific research into medical knowledge and, ultimately, health benefits.

By studying how data are created, used, and shared, informatics experts address challenges that result from the ever-increasing volume and complexity of data generation. By making broad, high-level connections across problems and projects, these efforts can help ensure that new knowledge and approaches can be disseminated widely for the greatest potential in getting new treatments to more patients more quickly.

Making data more meaningful, open and accessible is a key goal in NCATS’ efforts to improve translational science. In the fall of 2017, through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program , NCATS established the National Center for Data to Health (CD2H). Through the CD2H, informatics experts are developing standardized approaches and best practices, including algorithms and other specialized tools, to address operational and institutional barriers to sharing data. CD2H investigators are currently taking an inventory of the existing CTSA Program informatics and data-sharing resources that they can build upon.

“Some of the most valuable assets CTSA Program hubs have are data, but their potential can only be realized when they are used more comprehensively with the help of various informatics approaches,” said Melissa Haendel, Ph.D., program director for CD2H at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. “By working with others nationwide who are supported through the CTSA Program, we will identify problems and implement solutions to speed translation and provide better health for patients.”

Posted March 2018

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