Led by the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC), the Health Studies Australian National Data Asset (HeSANDA) will allow health researchers to share, browse and reuse health study data that has been made available on the platform.

“It’s a response to a huge challenge that all researchers face: What to do with the abundance of data that’s generated through research and clinical trials, and how can we maximise its potential?” Katie Ozdowska, project manager of the MACH Clinical Trials Consortium node, says.

The MACH Clinical Trials Consortium, led by Professor Julie Simpson and Professor Dougie Boyle from the University of Melbourne, is one of the nine initial nodes contributing to the project. Overall, 72 research organisations are represented across the nine nodes already confirmed.

Functionally, HeSANDA will act as a central repository for storage of clinical trial metadata, which potential researchers will be able to browse.

“Researchers will then be able to apply to the principal investigator or data custodian of the trial, who retains the rights to the data, to request secondary reuse of the data,” says Ozdowska.

“We’re developing processes and standards around the MACH node to make it easy for researchers to contribute and allow their data to be reused.”

Data driven health research

As well as the practical aspect of resource sharing, the project is also intended to foster greater collaboration between health researchers Australia wide.

“It creates a platform through which investigators can connect with one another and ultimately collaborate where an idea for a project or grant application may arise from someone other than the original data custodian,” says Ozdowska.

There are several research projects run by MACH partner organisations that are being used to test the system, with early feedback being that it is already encouraging new ways of working together.

“The ARDC is excited to be working with MACH on the HeSANDA project,” says Dr Kristan Kang, Program Manager for HeSANDA at the ARDC.

“Establishing a national infrastructure for sharing health study data will have enormous benefits for research, making a wealth of data available for secondary research. Improving researchers’ access to such highly valuable data will maximise return on investment of past research, and future research will be able to build upon it to improve health outcomes for Australians.

“We’re pleased to be working with MACH to set up trials to allow for the secondary use of data.”

As development of the MACH Clinical Trials Consortium continues, there will be opportunities for MACH partners to contribute to and consult on how the projects are implemented before the project’s planned launch next year.

To find out more, visit the ARDC website and MACH’s node project page.