- The National Institutes of Health on Tuesday launched STRIDES (Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability) — an initiative to boost accessibility and use of Big Data to speed biomedical innovation.
- As a first step, NIH has partnered with Google to bring the capacity of Google Cloud to biomedical research. The agency plans to seek additional industry partners as the initiative progresses.
- Separately, Google has hired former Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove to serve as executive advisor to the Google Cloud Healthcare and Life Sciences team.
The quantity of biomedical data is growing exponentially, but there are still questions about how to expand access and how best to use it. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Innovation, the volume of sequence data alone doubles every seven months.
“NIH is in a unique position to bring together academic and innovation industry partners to create a biomedical data ecosystem that maximizes the use of NIH-supported biomedical research data for the greatest benefit to human health,” Lawrence Tabak, NIH principal deputy director and interim associate director for data science, said in a statement. “The STRIDES initiative aims to maximize the number of researchers working to provide the greatest number of solutions to advancing health and technology and reducing the burden of disease.”
The initial agreement calls for constructing a cost-efficient framework for researchers to use Google’s Cloud storage, computing and machine learning technologies. The partnership will also collaborate with NIH’s Data Commons pilot, which is testing innovative tools and methods for sharing and using data in the cloud.
All data made available through the partnership will adhere to FAIR — standards that ensure data is findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable, NIH said. Initial efforts will focus on making NIH’s high-value data sets cloud-accessible, leveraging partnerships for data-related advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning and exploring ways to optimize technology-intensive research.
STRIDES is in line with a strategic plan NIH unveiled last month to modernize its biomedical data ecosystem and keep pace with advances in data science. Among the plan’s goals is to develop a highly efficient and effective biomedical research infrastructure.
“By helping researchers discover and authenticate against these datasets using open standards, and by making these datasets ready for researchers to perform scalable analytics and data science, we hope to usher in the next generation of biomedical discoveries,” Google’s Jonathan Sheffi, product manager for biomedical data, and Gregory Moore, vice president of healthcare at Google Cloud, said in a blog.
Google parent Alphabet has been spreading its wings in healthcare, from diabetes management to AI and a project to release sterilized mosquitoes to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. The company also has talked about tackling the interoperability boondoggle by powering a healthcare data infrastructure layer using Google Cloud, according to a recent CB Insights analysis.
Other Alphabet healthcare pursuits include Deep Variant, an open-source tool that uses AI to create an image of a person’s genetic blueprint using sequencing data and a partnership between the company’s DeepMind and a U.K. hospital to determine if machine learning technology can effectively analyze scans of a person’s eye.