University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Bradford Hill seminars at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health > DataSHIELD: taking the analysis to the data not the data to the analysis

DataSHIELD: taking the analysis to the data not the data to the analysis

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BRADFORD HILL SEMINAR

Research in modern biomedicine and social science requires sample sizes so large that they can often only be achieved through a pooled co-analysis of data from several studies. But the pooling of information from individuals in a central database that may be queried by researchers raises important ethico-legal questions and can be controversial. These reflect important societal and professional concerns about privacy, confidentiality and intellectual property. DataSHIELD provides a novel technological solution that circumvents some of the most basic challenges in facilitating the access of researchers and other healthcare professionals to individual-level data. Commands are sent from a central analysis computer (AC) to several data computers (DCs) that store the data to be co-analysed. Each DC is located at one of the studies contributing data to the analysis. The data sets are analysed simultaneously but in parallel. The separate parallelized analyses are linked by non-disclosive summary statistics and commands transmitted back and forth between the DCs and the AC. Technical implementation of DataSHIELD employs a specially modified R statistical environment linked to an Opal database deployed behind the computer firewall of each DC. Analysis is then controlled through a standard R environment at the AC. DataSHIELD is currently being developed as a flexible, easily extendable, open-source way to provide secure data access to a single study or data repository as well as for secure co-analysis of several studies.

Chaired by Dr Nita Forouhi, Programme Leader and Public Health Physician, MRC Epidemiology Unit.

This talk is part of the Bradford Hill seminars at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health series.

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