NIH earmarks $96M for multiyear effort to maximize value of Big Data

The National Institutes of Health has announced funding for scientists to derive knowledge from complex Big Data in biomedicine. The U.S. agency has committed $24 million per year in funding for four years, providing a $96 million pot to help fuel 6 to 8 centers of excellence.

"Biomedical research is increasingly data-intensive, with researchers routinely generating and using large, diverse datasets," the NIH said in a statement. "Yet the ability to manage, integrate and analyze such data, and to locate and use data generated by others, is often limited due to a lack of tools, accessibility, and training."

Scientific advances such as next-generation DNA sequencing have lead to an avalanche of data for scientists to interpret in order to make progress in understanding diseases. The NIH-backed Cancer Genome Atlas, for example, has sequenced thousands of cancer samples in order to shed light on the molecular triggers of malignancies. However, the time and cost of crunching data have far exceeded the speed and expense of sequencing. This is just one of many contributors to the problem.

"This funding opportunity represents a concerted effort to leverage the power of NIH in developing cutting-edge systems to address data science challenges," said NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins in the statement. "The goal is to help researchers translate data into knowledge that will advance discoveries and improve health, while reducing costs and redundancy."

The NIH plans to hold a webinar in September on the funding opportunity, which it expects to follow up with others in the coming months. The deadline on applications for this funding is Nov. 20.

- here's the release