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Prof Burton: “DataSHIELD: taking the analysis to the data not the data to the analysis”

15th May 2015 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Professor Paul Burton, Professor of Infrastructural Epidemiology, University of Bristol


Friday 15 May 2015, 13:00 – 14:00 Large Seminar Room, 1st Floor, Institute of Public Health, University Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge
Research in modern biomedicine and social science requires sample sizes so large that they can often only be achieved through a pooled co-analysis of data from several studies. But the pooling of information from individuals in a central database that may be queried by researchers raises important ethico-legal questions and can be controversial. These reflect important societal and professional concerns about privacy, confidentiality and intellectual property. DataSHIELD provides a novel technological solution that circumvents some of the most basic challenges in facilitating the access of researchers and other healthcare professionals to individual-level data. Commands are sent from a central analysis computer (AC) to several data computers (DCs) that store the data to be co-analysed. Each DC is located at one of the studies contributing data to the analysis. The data sets are analysed simultaneously but in parallel. The separate parallelized analyses are linked by non-disclosive summary statistics and commands transmitted back and forth between the DCs and the AC. Technical implementation of DataSHIELD employs a specially modified R statistical environment linked to an Opal database deployed behind the computer firewall of each DC. Analysis is then controlled through a standard R environment at the AC. DataSHIELD is currently being developed as a flexible, easily extendible, open-source way to provide secure data access to a single study or data repository as well as for secure co-analysis of several studies.

This talk will be chaired by Professor Nick Wareham, Director of the MRC Epidemiology Unit and co-Director of the Institute of Metabolic Science.


15th May 2015
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:


Cambridge Institute of Public Health
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Large Seminar Room, 1st Floor, Cambridge Institute of Public Health
Forvie Site
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB2 0SR United Kingdom
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