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Protecting Privacy and Facilitating Shared Access of Clinical and Genetic Data of Special Populations (Strong Heart)

Program Description

Data accessibility to the research community is crucial for large studies such as the Strong Heart Study (SHS) funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). At the same time, research data should be accessed in a responsible manner and no harm should be done to the individuals who share their data for research. However, clinical data sharing raises public concern that demographics, diagnostic codes, genome sequences, etc., can pose risks for individual privacy, with potential implications for employment, insurance, and cultural identity, particularly for underserved and disadvantaged population groups. Current privacy policies for data de-identification are inadequate to provide sufficient protection to privacy or to provide a guarantee that data use agreements are honored.

This project aims to protect privacy, provide data access and analyses to only those researchers approved to conduct a certain study or query, and facilitate shared access of clinical and genetic data of special populations. The proposed framework will move the analysis code to the data rather than move the data to the analysis code. The proposed aims are as follows:

  1. Develop a secure data-centric service to protect computation on SHS data based on governance practices that are acceptable to participating tribes, SHS researchers, and the NIH
  2. Develop federated computing models to support the SHS Coordinating Center and the Genetics Center to analyze data in a distributed manner
  3. Assess data sharing expectations and preferences of SHS participants to inform the implementation of the data sharing models that are developed

Principal Investigator (PI):  Lucila Ohno-Machado (UCSD)

Investigators: Cinnamon Bloss (UCSD), Shelly Cole (Texas Biomed), Xiaoqian Jiang (UTH), Jack Kent (Texas Biomed), Tsung-Ting Kuo (UCSD), Elisa Lee (OUHSC), Ying Zhang (OUHSC), Kai Zheng (UCI)

UCSD Staff: Riley Taitingfong, Tyler Bath, Andrew Hodges, Phd, Jihoon Kim, Kai Post, Cynthia Triplett

Grant: NHLBI R01 HL136835

Contact Email:

Start Date: December 2017

Expected Duration: 5 years

Find out more about the project on the Strong Heart Study website and NIH project information