Public-Private Partnerships Will Accelerate Data-Driven Discovery

concept of cloud computing

Big news today from NIH announcing their new initiative to develop and test new ways to best implement cloud services in support of biomedical research. Called STRIDES for “Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation and Sustainability,” the initiative will allow NIH to explore the use of cloud environments to streamline NIH data use. By partnering with commercial cloud service providers, NIH expects to improve access to biomedical data and provide cost-effective cloud infrastructure, data storage, computation, and machine learning services for NIH and NIH-supported investigators.

I thank the many NLM staff members who contributed key knowledge to help shape this initiative, and I’m confident that NLM will have many opportunities to impact STRIDES’ success, whether by devising discovery mechanisms, developing tools for investigators, assigning metadata to incoming data sets, or developing effective ways to link those data sets to related publications.

The full NIH press release follows.

NIH makes STRIDES to accelerate discoveries in the cloud
Google Cloud first to join effort.

The National Institutes of Health has launched a new initiative to harness the power of commercial cloud computing and provide NIH biomedical researchers access to the most advanced, cost-effective computational infrastructure, tools and services available. The STRIDES (Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability) Initiative launches with Google Cloud as its first industry partner and aims to reduce economic and technological barriers to accessing and computing on large biomedical data sets to accelerate biomedical advances.

“NIH is in a unique position to bring together academic and innovation industry partners to create a biomedical data ecosystem that maximizes the use of NIH-supported biomedical research data for the greatest benefit to human health,” said NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence A. Tabak, DDS, PhD, who also serves as NIH’s interim Associate Director for Data Science. “The STRIDES Initiative aims to maximize the number of researchers working to provide the greatest number of solutions to advancing health and reducing the burden of disease.”

In line with NIH’s first-ever Data Science Strategic Plan released in June, STRIDES will establish additional innovative partnerships to broaden access to services and tools, including training for researchers to learn about the latest cloud tools and technologies. Services are expected to become available to the NIH-supported community after a series of pilot activities to refine policies and test and assess implementation approaches.

The initial agreement with Google Cloud creates a cost-efficient framework for NIH researchers, as well as researchers at more than 2,500 academic institutions across the nation receiving NIH support, to make use of Google Cloud’s storage, computing, and machine learning technologies. In addition, the partnership will involve collaborations with NIH’s Data Commons Pilot—a group of innovative projects testing new tools and methods for working with and sharing data in the cloud—and enable the establishment of training programs for researchers at NIH-funded institutions on how to use Google Cloud Platform.

“The volume of data generated in biomedical research labs across the world is growing exponentially,” said Gregory Moore, MD, PhD, Vice President, Healthcare, Google Cloud. “Through our partnership with NIH, we are bringing the power of data and the cloud to the biomedical research community globally. Together, we are making it easier for scientists and physicians to access and garner insights from NIH-funded data sets with appropriate privacy protections, which will ultimately accelerate biomedical research progress toward finding treatments and cures for the most devastating diseases of our time.”

A central tenet of STRIDES is that data made available through these partnerships will incorporate standards endorsed by the biomedical research community to make data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). NIH’s initial efforts will focus on making NIH high-value data sets more accessible through the cloud, leveraging partnerships to take advantage of data-related innovations such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, and experimenting with new ways to optimize technology-intensive research.

“By launching STRIDES, we clearly show our strong commitment to putting the most advanced cloud computing tools in the hands of scientists,” said Andrea T. Norris, NIH Chief Information Officer and director of NIH’s Center for Information Technology. “Beyond our partnership with Google Cloud, we will seek to add more industry partners to assure that NIH continues to be well poised to support the future of biomedical research.”

Author: Patti Brennan

Director, US National Library of Medicine

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