NIH FAIR Data Commons Awards Announced

NIH FAIR Data Commons Awards Announced

Professor Susanna-Assunta Sansone is co-Principal investigator in three of the twelve projects awarded prestigious USA National Institutes of Health (NIH) Data Commons funding, announced today.

Over the next 4 years the awardees will work together, as the NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase Consortium (DCPPC), to accelerate new biomedical discoveries by making the digital products of biomedical research - such as data and tools - Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable for more researchers, according to the widely accepted FAIR principles.

"As an author of the FAIR principles, I am a strong promoter of a Data Science culture that considers the research, development and educational activities in and around digital research assets as science, rather than just a service" says Professor Sansone, Associate Professor and Associate Director at the Oxford e-Research Centre, part of the University of Oxford's Department of Engineering Science. "The NIH Data Commons will contribute to turn the concept of FAIR data into reality, and I am delighted to be at the forefront of these activities".

The awardees of the NIH DCPPC will pilot principles, metrics, policies, processes, and architectures needed to create the Data Commons, a shared virtual space where scientists can collaboratively access and share data and analytical tools. The work will be carried out using three high-value NIH biomedical datasets chosen based on their value to users in the biomedical research community, the diversity of the data they contain, and their coverage of both basic and clinical research: (i) Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) Program; (ii) Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project; and (iii) Model organism databases (MODs).

"Harvesting the wealth of information in biomedical data will advance our understanding of human health and disease," says NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "However, poor data accessibility is a major barrier to translating data into understanding. The NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase is an important effort to remove that barrier."

Professor Sansone is already a co-Principal investigator in two NIH Big Data to Knowledge centres, funded during the first phase of this data science programme. "My team and I are thrilled to continue as part of this second phase of the programme, where we will also bring elements of our ISA and FAIRsharing resources, part of the ELIXIR-UK Node, and linked to the Research Data Alliance and Force11 communities. It is particularly significant to be the only co-Principal investigator involved in three projects, each led by renowned data scientists and colleagues, and the only UK university represented in the consortium", she says.

The three projects Professor Sansone's team will contribute to are the University of Maryland NIH Data Commons Facilitation Center; a Development and Implementation Plan for Community Supported FAIR Guidelines and Metrics; and Cloud Agnostic Architecture to locate Indexed FAIR objects and safely reuse them in new integrated analyses (1OT3OD025459-01; 1OT3OD025467-01; 1OT3OD025462-01).

Owen White, Professor of Epidemiology & Public Health, Director of Bioinformatics at University of Maryland School of Medicine and NIH Principal Investigator, says of the award, "It is a privilege to be working on this bold new project with Professor Sansone and her team. Their expertise in working closely with strategic members of the data science community - including journal editors, government organizations, and international ontology experts - will be central to our success in metadata management for this project".



"Our work will focus on a development and implementation plan for community supported FAIR guidelines and metrics. Professor Sansone's long term involvement and unique expertise on community-developed standards for data and metadata is an asset to our strong international team, which includes colleagues at the University of Miami and Maastricht and Deloitte Consulting
," explains NIH Principal Investigator and Professor of Pharmacological Sciences Avi Maayan, Director of the Centre for Bioinformatics at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "Susanna will also provide valuable links with the European ELIXIR initiative, as well as standards organizations and other stakeholders looking at guidelines that will allow biomedical digital object products and services to increasingly comply with the FAIR principles".



"Our award will focus on research ethics, privacy and security and on search and index activities; the latter work will be co-led by Professor Sansone, in Oxford, and Professor Xu, at UT Health", explains NIH Principal Investigator Lucila Ohno-Machado, UC San Diego Professor of Medicine, Chair of UC San Diego Health, and Associate Dean for Informatics and Technology. "We are delighted to continue work with Susanna and her team, recognized world-leading experts in information management and interoperability. They have already been pivotal in leading the semantic model for the DataMed metadata index prototype, published this year in Nature Genetics and Scientific Data journals".


The first NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase Meeting will take place in early December in Bethesda, Maryland. Meeting information and outcomes will be shared as they become available.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the U.S. medical research agency and the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world. Common Fund programs address emerging scientific opportunities and pressing challenges in biomedical research that no single NIH Institute or Center can address on its own, but are of high priority for the NIH as a whole.

Read the NIH Data Commons Press Release.


Further information
Twitter @NIH_CommonFund
NIH Data Commons Hashtag – #CommonsPilot #FAIRData
NIH Common Fund Facebook Page
NIH Data Commons webpage