NIH includes JAX in multi-institution awards to improve data sharing


Jackson Laboratory (JAX)-designed software for biomedical research is part of National Institutes of Health (NIH) Data Commons Pilot Phase, a multi-institutional and international effort to make research data findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR).

JAX is piloting software specifically focusing on cardiomyopathy, a common disease of the heart muscle. This new online Disease Navigator will enable scientists who study cardiovascular disease to fast-track their research by accessing relevant genomic and other data from animal models (mouse and rat) cross-referenced to human data.

Because of the genetic and biological similarities among humans, mice and rats, researchers use data from these model organisms to elucidate the mechanisms of human disease, with the ultimate goal of finding new treatments and preventive strategies.

JAX Professor Carol Bult, Ph.D., is a lead investigator for the Disease Navigator project. “The Disease Navigator is an important step in understanding the functional significance of human genome variation data,” she says, “because it will make it easier for researchers to find the relevant connections between human genetics and genomics data and the expertly curated knowledge available for animal models in the Mouse Genome Informatics and Rat Genome Databases.”

The Disease Navigator will be developed in conjunction with a consortium of model organism databases called the Alliance of Genome Resources (AGR).

The overall goals of the NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase are to provide new ways for researchers to share and provide access to digital objects (like data and tools), online and in the cloud, in order to maximize the value of its biomedical research investment.

“Harvesting the wealth of information in biomedical data will advance our understanding of human health and disease,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “However, poor data accessibility is a major barrier to translating data into understanding. The NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase is an important effort to remove that barrier.”