Northwestern to Co-lead National Center for Digital Health Innovation

By Clare McFaddenNovember 13, 2017

Northwestern University, in partnership with Oregon Health & Science University, University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Sage Bionetworks have collaboratively been awarded a $25 million grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) to create a new CTSA Program National Center for Data to Health (CD2H).

The award will coalesce and coordinate informatics activities across the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program, a network of more than 50 medical research institutions, to provide collaborative clinical and translational research infrastructure.

“The new CD2H offers an opportunity to catalyze the cultural and technological changes necessary for data and informatics to fundamentally impact research and healthcare,” says Kristi Holmes, preventive medicine, director of the Galter Health Sciences Library and Learning Center at the Feinberg School of Medicine, and a co-director of the new center. “As scientific research is transformed by big data, high-performance computing, and real-time publishing, the structure and composition of scientific teamwork is also changing. Here we aim to grow the data and informatics-based architecture needed to support interdisciplinary teams so that diverse contributions are valued and recognized — enhancing knowledge transfer, discovery, and impact on health.”

The new CD2H will be led Melissa Haendel, Oregon Health and Science University; Holmes, who is also director of evaluation at the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (NUCATS); Sean Mooney, University of Washington; Christopher Chute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; and John Wilbanks, Sage Bionetworks. These institutions, together with The Scripps Research Institute, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Iowa, and The Jackson Laboratory will work with CTSA Program hubs and NCATS at the National Institutes of Health to launch the CD2H.

The CD2H will be tasked with several priorities to support a vibrant and evolving informatics ecosystem, including: support and enhancement of a collaborative informatics community; development of Good Data Practice; promotion of software standards for interoperability; growth of collaborative innovation across informatics tools, methods, and processes; advancement of cutting edge biomedical research informatics; data science education for CTSA Program researchers; and novel methods and tools for the evaluation of the impact of these activities to enhance health care through data and informatics.

“Today’s researchers and physicians can leverage data and technology in ways never before imagined,” says Donald Lloyd-Jones, senior associate dean for Clinical and Translational Research and director NUCATS. “Critical infrastructure, such as our own Northwestern Medicine Enterprise Data Warehouse, powers transformative research, clinical trials, clinical quality improvement, healthcare operations, and medical education initiatives — enabling us to truly realize the vision of a vibrant learning healthcare system. A strong, collaborative national informatics infrastructure is a critical component to support this work and drive healthcare and research to the next level. We are thrilled for Northwestern to play a leadership role on this important effort.”

NUCATS functions as an integrated hub supporting and accelerating clinical and translational science across Northwestern (including six schools), three nationally renowned clinical partners, the Chicago community and stakeholders, and the broad consortium of CTSA-funded institutions. NUCATS is funded, in part, by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (Grant UL1TR001422) and the new CTSA Program National Center for Data to Health is also supported by NCATS (Grant U24TR002306).

Read more about the new CD2H, here.