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NIH Invests $32M in BD2K Biomedical Research Initiatives

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health has awarded grants worth nearly $32 million to projects that aim to develop new strategies for analyzing and leveraging increasingly complex biomedical datasets.

These multi-institute awards are part of the NIH's Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative, which is projected to have a total investment of nearly $656 million through 2020, pending available funds. These awards will support the development of new approaches, software, tools, and training programs, the NIH said, that will offer better access to biomedical research data and enable new discoveries that lead to better ways to treat and prevent disease.

Specifically, the funds will be used to set up 11 centers that will focus on specific data science challenges and develop methods, software, tools, and other resources to address these issues. They will also support the establishment of the BD2K-LINCS Perturbation Data Coordination and Integration center, which will handle data coordination and support projects associated with the NIH Common Fund’s Library of Integrated Network-based Cellular Signatures program, an ongoing effort that seeks to characterize how various cells, tissues, and networks respond to disruption by drugs and other factors.

Funds will also go towards creating the BD2K Data Discovery Index Coordination Consortium (DDICC), a group tasked to begin community-based development of a biomedical data discovery index that will enable discovery, access, and citation of biomedical research datasets. Lastly, some funds will support education and training of current and future generations of data science researchers.

"The future of biomedical research is about assimilating data across biological scales from molecules to populations," Philip Bourne, NIH associate director for data science, said in a statement. Large-scale disease-oriented efforts such as The Cancer Genome Atlas and the ENCODE Project have generated billions of data points. "Ensuring that we are getting the most out of the research data that we fund is a high priority for NIH," he added.

The BD2K initiative, launched in December 2013, is a trans-NIH program that is funded by all 27 institutes and centers, as well as the NIH Common Fund.

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