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Friday, September 23, 2011

Biogrid Australia - the Australian Cancer Grid

Ahead of a visit by Gavin Jennings (Australian Shadow minister for Health and Mental Health) to the UK at the end of this month to look at the organisation of biomedical research and the work of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), we will be looking at the infrastructure in Australia for biomedical research and trying to pull together some lessons we could learn from our antipodean colleagues.

These notes come by way of an update to a previous piece of work written for our colleagues at the National Cancer Research Institute Informatics Initiative:

Funded by the Victorian and Australian Governments and led by clinical researchers, BioGrid is a not-for-profit data sharing technology organisation spanning a network of 41 hospitals and research organisations. BioGrid seeks to facilitate the improvement of health outcomes by providing easier access to health and research data across multiple institutions, geographic regions and diseases through the secure and ethical integration of data.

The web-based platform provides ethical access while protecting both privacy and intellectual property. The integration of data collected about a consumer [patient] across multiple institutions has the capability to produce tailored reports for auditing and reporting and provide statistical analysis tools to conduct more advanced research analysis. Authorised users can access, transform and add to data and test research questions using their own analytical tools or those made available by BioGrid.

The Australian Cancer Grid is the flagship of the expansion of the BioGrid Australian platform. The focus is to provide cancer researchers with data on the clinical and surgical outcomes in various types of cancer. The platform can provide researchers with biospecimen, biomarker, treatment, imaging and clinical outcome data. As researchers look to genomic, proteomic and metabolomic data and seek to identify biomarkers that will increase the understanding of the cause and pathway of cancer, the integration of all data is vitally important. This infrastructure will enable institutions to meet the increasingly complex requirements of health planning and research and will provide the platform for increased linkage to participating teaching hospitals and cancer research centres in Australia as well as the integrated cancer centres in Victoria.

Revamped Website and Data Access Application System

BioGrid Australia has recently updated their website which now features a new user-friendly design and several new or improved features. The BioGrid Data Access application system has been upgraded to make it easier for researchers and data contributors to apply for access to data. New features include:

• A new two-page application process for data contributors to gain a login to access their own data.

• A new one-page application process to access dummy databases, which will allow potential users to test the BioGrid querying and analysis tools available.

• Functionality to add all people involved in the research project and allocate which of these requires a login to perform the queries and analysis

Tips for Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) Users

A new feature of the site, these tips will be beneficial to users as a reference tool which provides easy ways to perform common queries and analysis in SAS. Each tip will be downloadable and have step by step instructions and new tips will be uploaded to the website each month e.g. combine data from two or more tables in SAS Enterprise Guide using the Append Table task.

You can find these tips on BioGrid’s web-page by selecting Services & Tools>Analysis Tools>SAS>SAS Tips

e-learning Offering

BioGrid offer e-learning modules that enable users to see how BioGrid can assist them with their research, particularly with how to access data using the analysis and reporting tools available through BioGrid. Whether you want to access data through BioGrid for the first time, or refresh your knowledge of how to use their analysis tools, these e-learning modules will be valuable reference tools. These e-learning modules have the capacity to increase users’ capability to use record linked data in translational research and facilitate research and patient treatment outcomes.

For more information on what data is linked to BioGrid and how to access data, go to

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