Saturday, October 11, 2014

OHSU Informatics Awarded NIH Grants Focused on Big Data and Analytics

The Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology (DMICE) has been awarded two grants to develop educational content and skills courses in the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Program. In addition, DMICE was awarded an additional grant in collaboration with Mayo Clinic that makes use of Big Data from electronic health records (EHRs) for the purpose of identifying patients who might be eligible for clinical research studies.

On Thursday, October 9, this first round of BD2K grants were announced. A total of $32 million was awarded for 38 grants in the areas of enabling data utilization, developing analysis methods and software, enhancing training, and establishing centers of excellence. The two DMICE grants total about $1 million over three years. The two grants awarded to OHSU were among nine grants awarded for development of open educational resources and courses. Eight other institutions in addition to OHSU received more than one grant.

The BD2K initiative was launched by NIH in 2012, when it was recognized that an increasingly important aspect of biomedical research was to leverage data from clinical and biological sources. Its mission is to enable biomedical scientists to use big data effectively and appropriately to enhance reproducible research.

The two OHSU BD2K grants were R25 educational grants. Although national in scope, they will also have important local benefits for OHSU, Oregon, and the rest of the Pacific Northwest. One of the R25 grants will develop open educational resources (OERs) that can be adapted for a variety of educational programs, from the undergraduate to graduate and professional levels. The materials will use the same format as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) curricular materials.

The other R25 grant will develop a Big Data skills course that will make available curricula and data sets to provide training in methods for basic, clinical and translational researchers as well as clinicians, librarians, and others. All researchers, especially graduate students, will be eligible to take the skills course and hone their skills in data.

DMICE plans to incorporate the materials from both grants in its own courses in its biomedical informatics graduate program, while the OHSU Library will utilize the materials via its educational outreach efforts. The OERs will also join the existing ONC curriculum materials on the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Web site.

The OER project will be led by three PIs: William Hersh, MD; Shannon McWeeney, PhD; and Melissa Haendel, PhD. The skills development course will be led by David Dorr, MD, MS, and Drs. McWeeney and Haendel. These four OHSU faculty will also become part of the BD2K national community that NIH is establishing to widely disseminate knowledge, tools, and educational materials around Big Data.

The additional R01 grant is funded by the National Library of Medicine, the NIH institute devoted to basic research in biomedical informatics. Dr. Hersh will be collaborating with new DMICE faculty Stephen Wu, PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor, as well as colleagues from Mayo Clinic, led by overall project PI, Hongfang Liu, PhD of Mayo Clinic. Both institutions will investigate techniques to use data from 100,000 patients each in their EHR systems for the task of cohort discovery, i.e., identifying patients who might be candidates for research studies.

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