NIH-built Toolset Helps Researchers Share and Compare Data

Paul McCloskey | GCN | October 10, 2015

On battlefields across the Middle East and football fields in the United States, traumatic brain injury (TBI) has hit near-epidemic proportions in the past several years. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it leads to 52,000 deaths and 275,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. each year. The spiraling caseload is pushing biomedical researchers to stretch their increasingly tight budgets and maximize their research to help prevent TBI and other serious health threats.

The National Institutes of Health has developed a set of software modules that researchers say are meeting both goals. The Biomedical Research Informatics Computing System (BRICS) gives scientists from different fields of research access to a common set of data management tools they can use to share results and discoveries more easily and frequently.

BRICS is a “set of tools that can be easily combined to help advance research by using informatics,” said Matthew McAuliffe, chief of NIH’s Biomedical Imaging Research Services Section. In the past, researchers captured information in a variety of ways, which made it nearly impossible to compare datasets, he added. BRICS standardizes data definitions and records data consistently across all studies...