Funding, Grants & Awards

11 Institutional Centers of Excellence to Explore Big Data in Health

The National Institutes of Health has just made a major investment in the use of "big data" in healthcare. Eleven institutions from California to Pennsylvania have received grants to pursue centers of excellence in multiple areas as part of BD2K, the Big Data to Knowledge initiative. That kicked off in 2012 with a promise of $656 million to be invested in research projects to facilitate broad use of biomedical digital assets, conduct research and develop methods and tools for analyzing data, enhance training and support the "data ecosystem" in other ways.

A University of California Los Angeles project, for example, received $1.5 million to "democratize" data research of proteins through crowdsourcing.

More broadly, the UCLA center of excellence will create and test cloud-based tools for integrating and analyzing data about protein markers linked to cardiovascular disease. Faculty from UCLA's School of Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Science will work with people from five other institutes, including the Scripps Translational Science Institute and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The findings, according to UCLA, will help shape how data from electronic health records will be managed.

According to Peipei Ping, the UCLA center's principal investigator and a professor of physiology, medicine and bioinformatics, a long-term goal is to standardize patient data to make it more easily transferable. "A healthy person's medical records may contain 10 pages, while a patient with a chronic disease may possess 150 pages of records," she said in a statement. "Our center will develop computational tools to extract keywords and summarize the most critical medical information for physicians. This will streamline digital access to patient files and allow clinicians to quickly grasp the most relevant details."

The other 10 centers of excellence are:

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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