Welcome to our new blog, DataScience@NIH—Driving Discovery Through Data!
In January 2017, I was appointed NIH Interim Associate Director of NIH for Data Science (iADDS), taking over from the inaugural NIH Associate Director for Data Science (ADDS), Dr. Phil Bourne. I have big shoes to fill!
I begin with a statement of gratitude to Phil, the original ADDS office staff, and the many, many NIH staffers who served on details or in voluntary leadership roles. Phil translated the guidance received from the Data and Informatics Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the (NIH) Director from a vision to a vibrant, $200M Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) program. BD2K touched many aspects of data science on the NIH campus, nationally, and globally. Weekly webinars helped build skills, Pi Day and the Open Science prize, all of which generated excitement about the intersection between data science, formal inquiry, and citizen outreach. BD2K Coordinating Centers are exploring the landscape of standards for data exchange, training opportunities from degree programs to MOOCs, and the skills and knowledge needed across the 12 BD2K Centers of Excellence. Additionally, Phil led the NIH thinking about the value of preprints as a research dissemination strategy, the importance of creating systematic ways to identify and curate high value data sets, and how to judiciously stand up data repositories.
I will always be grateful to Phil and his team for two key themes that permeated the centralized efforts of the ADDS office. Phil advocated that to be useful, data should be FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable), and he worked hard to provide the technical infrastructure and political good will to make this happen. He also advanced the concept of the Commons, a layered suite of software tools and utilities that would make data storage safe and computational resources accessible. Phil and his group, particularly Vivian Bonazzi, conveyed the excitement of a vision of discovery where data flow freely and advanced computational tools are brought to the data, not the other way around.
As the interim ADDS, I will hold true to the values that Phil & his team represented: human health will be improved by discovery that is conducted under an open science framework enabled by data that are FAIR, communicated through vast networks of scientists and citizens using many different publication outlets. I also take seriously the need to address the challenges faced by NIH and the scientific community to manage the enormous amounts of data that now emerge both through investigation and observations. I will be using this blog to introduce you to the many places within NIH where data driven science has taken root, and I will use it to bring to your attention the many issues that accompany data and open science, including privacy, data rights, authorization controversies and balancing of public and private investments in the future of data science. And, most importantly, I will use this blog to give YOU a chance to speak to our whole community. What are you waiting for?