Secure Federated Data Retrieval in Clinical Trials

A. Stell, R. Sinnott, and O. Ajayi (UK)


Database and Information Systems, Data Federation, Anonymisation


The clinical domain is one in which a plethora of data exists in repositories distributed across the globe, crossing institutional, regional and national boundaries. To be able to harness this data and move it across these boundaries has the potential to provide great scientific and medical insight, to the benefit of many protagonists in the field of clinical medicine. In this paper, we outline the challenges inherent in drawing together such data sets using Grid technology, focusing specifically on the issues surrounding security and data access. A framework is outlined that makes use of Grid technology to achieve this “federation” of clinical data. It is described in the context of Virtual Organisations for Trials and Epidemiological Studies (VOTES), a project funded by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and involving the National e-Science Centre (NeSC) at the University of Glasgow. In this framework, several solutions are proposed to address the security issues specific to the clinical domain including fine-grained “anonymisation” services where identifying data in medical records are seamlessly de-identified based on the user privilege, leaving only statistically relevant data for viewing by un-privileged users.

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