New international database for heart data to be developed

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Researchers at three universities, including Johns Hopkins, are creating a digital network that will allow cardiovascular researchers worldwide to easily exchange data and expertise on heart-related illnesses. The project, called the Cardiovascular Research Grid, is expected to be a great resource to heart researchers who will use these digital tools to find new ways to prevent, detect and treat life-threatening cardiac ailments. There is $8.5 million in federal support backing the project.
The project will be based at the Institute for Computational Medicine at Johns Hopkins, in collaboration with the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Ohio State University College of Medicine and the Center for Research in Biological Systems at the University of California, San Diego.
The researchers will develop open, grid-based software tools that will enable other research groups to become “nodes” in the new grid. Once connected to the grid, researchers will be able to access and share experimental data, data analysis tools and computational models relating to heart function in healthy people and those with cardiac disease. To protect privacy, none of the heart data will carry information identifying patients from whom it was obtained.
“There had never been a simple and direct way for cardiovascular researchers to share, analyze and model this important data,” said Raimond Winslow, director of the Institute for Computational Medicine at Johns Hopkins and principal investigator in the project. “Now, there will be.”
Winslow, who also is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, added, “This is the direction in which biomedical research is heading in the 21st century. In the past, biomedical research was mainly done in individual labs. The Cardiovascular Research Grid will enable us to assemble large, geographically distributed research teams and bring together the leading experts in the world to focus on a common problem, regardless of their location. This grid will enable experimentalists to share their data with computational scientists, who will analyze and model the data. The computational scientists will then share their results with their experimental colleagues, who use it to refine their experiments. In this fashion, we believe the creation of the Cardiovascular Research Grid will accelerate the discovery of new approaches for treating heart disease.”
During the first year of funding, the organizers of the new grid plan will deploy the initial infrastructure and software that will enable researchers to begin sharing and analyzing information.
The Cardiovascular Research Grid will be headquartered in the 79,000 square-foot Computational Science and Engineering Building, now under construction on the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins. The building is expected to open this summer.