NIH taps Northrop Grumman for $30M bioinformatics project

Northrop Grumman ($NOC) has capitalized on the desire of scientists to stock and share research data. The National Institutes of Health has picked the major government contractor for an IT and bioinformatics project for helping researchers gather, analyze and exchange data from immunology studies.

The NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases awarded the 5-year contract that could be worth up to $30 million and builds off a previous contract with Northrop Grumman since 2004, according to the company. Northrop says the majority of the work will be done in Rockville, MD, and the ultimate goal of the project is to speed scientific findings.

The company is working on the contract with Stanford University School of Medicine and E-SAC, a provider of research data management and bioinformatics support. Part of the project calls for maintaining ImmPort, an online immunology database with tools for data analysis and visualization. In addition, the NIH is pushing development of systems to support interoperability of information.

"Our team will support basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious, immunological and allergic diseases," said Amy Caro, vice president of health IT programs at Northrop Grumman Information Systems.

Through the NIH, the U.S. government spends billions of dollars on basic research in immunology and other fields. IT serves as a backbone for sharing key findings among scientists, as researchers seek better ways to gain access to data that support further discoveries. Institute Director Francis Collins has been a major advocate for speeding the translation of NIH-funded scientific discoveries into treatments for humans, making sure that the public gets a return on its investment in science.

- here's Northrop's release