Researchers who work to harness scientific understanding and translate it into best practice recommendations are invaluable in the search for a cure for diseases such as cancer, treatments for medical conditions, and for accelerating the speed in which drugs go from concept to useable, personalised medicines for patients.
With the rapid increase in the data available to biomedical translational researchers, the need for adaptable informatics tools to support them is now overwhelming. Currently, much of their research is not reused outside of the individual studies themselves.
If data was more easily shared and securely managed using an affordable cloud based infrastructure for the whole community, then institutional research infrastructure costs would reduce considerably (we need to be researching not reinventing wheels!) In addition, researchers would be able to:
- Collaborate through better and more secure management of research data. This should in turn have a positive impact on the speed and quality of research, as outputs are more easily shared, reused and developed
- Query open anonymized datasets for cohort discovery rather than having to repeat previous studies
- Link and re-identify selected subject cohorts and obtain consent to study, saving valuable time and effort over starting from scratch and increase cohort sizes
- Capture clinical data from specifically designed questionnaires rather than starting from a blank spreadsheet every time or buying bespoke software
- Register, track and tag subject tissue sample records and link directly to studies
- Integrate, link and analyse subject sample, questionnaire and clinical data gathered during the study to other studies and make these available to other researchers.
The Biomedical Research Infrastructure Software Service (BRISSKit) is a transformational platform that enables biomedical and translational researchers to securely manage and combine datasets, including for patient cohorts where permitted. We use a suite of open source applications accessed in a browser which make it easier for researchers to manage their studies.
Sensitive data is secured and only accessible to those with permission. This includes the identification, selection, engagement and recruitment of suitable subjects for research.
Jisc, working in partnership with the University of Leicester aims to develop BRISSKit into a service to be offered to UK universities.
This platform will stop research groups having to go-it-alone through costly commercial procurement, and ensure that there is an alternative to relying solely on ad-hoc spreadsheets. It’s been designed with flexibility and ease of use in mind.
Researchers can connect the platform to their preferred data source eg pathology data and then export the results to their favourite analysis software, such as R-based statistical applications, or even modify the in-built applications to suit their needs. This is the beauty of an open source approach!
So what next?
We are aware that we are not the only people developing solutions for health research data management, so we are looking to find out whether there are potential synergies with other solutions and approaches that could help us to meet these big research challenges together. The first step is to host an open event on 23-24 February at College Court in Leicester, which will feature talks from prominent researchers and solution providers.
We will also use this event to showcase and get feedback on our public cloud enhanced i2b2 software. This is designed to let users analyse their own anonymised datasets alongside existing clinical data through a simple Excel type spreadsheet upload.
Find out more