NIH Collaboratory Distributed Research Network (DRN)
Millions of people. Strong collaborations. Privacy first.
Co-Chairs: Jeffrey Brown, Richard Platt, and Lesley Curtis
Project Manager: Beth Syat
Established by the Electronic Health Records (EHR) Core, the NIH Collaboratory Distributed Research Network (DRN) enables investigators to collaborate with each other in the use of electronic health data, while also safeguarding protected health information and proprietary data. It supports both single- and multisite research programs.
The network’s querying capabilities reduce the need to share confidential or proprietary data by enabling authorized researchers to send queries to collaborators holding data (i.e., Data Partners). In some cases, queries can take the form of computer programs that a Data Partner can execute on a pre-existing dataset. The Data Partner can return the query result, typically aggregated (count) data, rather than the data itself. This form of remote querying reduces legal, regulatory, privacy, proprietary, and technical barriers associated with data sharing for research.
By facilitating knowledge exchange without requiring a massive data warehousing effort, the DRN combines local control and security with the power that can be achieved from large datasets. All data queries are opt-in; in other words, Data Partners can choose whether to accept a query and execute it.
The DRN uses the PopMedNet software application and complies with the standards for distributed querying supported by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s Query Health Initiative and adopted by other research collaborations, including Mini-Sentinel.
The network seeks to build strong and trusted collaborations to support the research that will lead to improved health for millions of people around the world.