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Paul Harris, Ph.D., is developing a Web-based tool that helps researchers collect and manage study data. (photo by Neil Brake)

NIH grant boosts data management program

BY: LESLIE HAST

1/30/2009 - Vanderbilt Medical Center has received a $1.3 million contract from the National Institutes of Health to continue development of a Web-based program that is helping researchers around the world collect and manage study data.

The program, called REDCap, for Research Electronic Data Capture, was developed in 2004 by Paul Harris, Ph.D., research associate professor of Biomedical Informatics and Biomedical Engineering.

Harris recognized a growing number of regulatory and best-practice requirements surrounding electronic data collection and storage and understood that most research groups lacked informatics resources to achieve compliance.

The goal of the project was to give researchers an “easy way to do the right thing” when collecting and managing data for scientific projects.

The new contract will fund work to continue development on the project, including:
• New functional modules for data collection using case report forms and web surveys;
• Standards to support data sharing and shared libraries of researcher data collection instruments;
• Methods to enable data exchange with clinical informatics systems;
• Automated data de-identification support to enable safer data sharing and analysis; and
• Support for a growing consortium of institutional partners using REDCap.

The project now supports approximately 260 projects and 950 researchers at VMC and Meharry Medical College.

REDCap services are available at no cost to research teams using support from the Clinical and Translational Science Award grant, led by Gordon Bernard, M.D.
Researchers can find additional information about obtaining REDCap support for individual studies at Vanderbilt's StarBRITE researcher portal at www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/starbrite/.

In 2006, the REDCap system was offered to other institutions and a consortium of domestic and international users was formed. There are currently 32 partners in the active consortium and Harris hopes to significantly increase this number with support from the NIH contract.

“REDCap fills a niche need at most academic research institutions. We are happy to provide software and support at no charge under our current participation model. This benefits our institutional partners and also Vanderbilt as we receive regular feedback and collaborative support from a wide array of informaticians, biostatisticians and scientific research teams. The consortium is something very unique in the clinical research informatics community,” Harris said.

The project is supported at VMC by Rob Taylor, Veida Elliott and Janey Wang in the Vanderbilt Office of Research Informatics and Jeff Horner in the Department of Biostatistics. Additional collaborators for this NIH contract include investigators from the Mayo Clinic and Oregon Health and Sciences University.

More information can be found at the REDCap project site at www.project-redcap.org.

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