NIH Invests in Biomedical Research Data

Published on: 

The National Institutes of Health announces grants for the development of strategies for the utilization of biomedical data sets.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on Oct. 9, 2014 that they are issuing nearly $32 million in grants for the development of strategies to analyze and leverage biomedical data sets.  The grants are part of NIH’s Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative, launched in December 2013. BD2K is funded from all 27 NIH institutes and centers, as well as the NIH Common Fund.

According to NIH, the collection of data from biomedical research, including DNA sequencing and imaging, is increasing beyond researchers’ ability to use the data. NIH intends for the BD2K awards to “support the development of new approaches, software, tools, and training programs to improve access to these data and the ability to make new discoveries using them.”

“Data creation in today’s research is exponentially more rapid than anything we anticipated even a decade ago,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, in a press release. “Mammoth data sets are emerging at an accelerated pace in today’s biomedical research and these funds will help us overcome the obstacles to maximizing their utility. The potential of these data, when used effectively, is quite astounding.”


NIH funding will establish 12 centers that will each tackle specific data science challenges and provide support for creating a scientific community-based consortium to develop approaches for the creation of a data discovery index, data science training, and workforce development. The centers will be set up as follows:

  • Centers of Excellence for Big Data Computing, comprising 11 centers, will develop innovative approaches to data integration and use, analysis of genomic data, and managing data from electronic health records.

  • BD2K-LINCS Perturbation Data Coordination and Integration Center will be a data coordination center for the NIH Common Fund’s Library of Integrated Network-based Cellular Signatures (LINCS) program, which aims to characterize how a variety of types of cells, tissues and networks respond to disruption by drugs and other factors. The center will support data science research focusing on interpreting and integrating LINCS-generated data from different data types and databases in the LINCS-funded projects.

  • BD2K Data Discovery Index Coordination Consortium will create a consortium to begin a community-based development of a biomedical data discovery index that will enable discovery, access, and citation of biomedical research data sets.

  • Training and Workforce Development awards will support the education and training of current and future generations of researchers in data science fields, as well as those whose work may require certain expertise in the use or generation of large amounts of data and data resources.

More information about the recipients of the new grants may be found on NIH’s website at