The safe and secure sharing of medical research data has been enabled due to a secure infrastructure for collaboration and the sharing of resources for data science.
The research and education network Janet, provided by Jisc, can offer additional controls and safeguards for researchers working with sensitive data.
Jisc said that it is working with leading UK universities to support three new initiatives: the development of the Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research, a UK-wide virtual organisation with four connection points and ten funding organisations; the second is Medical Bioinformatics that will provide capacity for the safe use and analysis of biological and patient data for medical research across all diseases; and the third is the Administrative Data Research Network, which is the first phase of the Big Data Network funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
Jisc said that rather than each of the research programmes and organisations developing one-off solutions to manage collaborative secure communication and user authentication between partners, it is securing the networks across the organisations so that approved researchers working in one partner organisation can gain access to the data they need wherever it is stored.
Jeremy Sharp, Janet’s director of strategic technologies, said: “Providing researchers with controlled access to data and resources through the network is key to enabling them to focus on their research.
“In validating this use of the Janet network for sensitive, anonymised health data, we are ensuring that the UK’s investment in Janet will reap larger returns in the future and continue to respond to the considerable challenges facing those people who are doing valuable work analysing large quantities of data.”
The longer term aim is to create the conditions for a national infrastructure for secure access to data for researchers across various academic disciplines.