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MMCRI Joins National COVID Data Research Collaborative

October 19, 2020

Contact: Caroline Cornish
207-662-5146 / ccornish@mmc.org

PORTLAND, Maine – Maine Medical Center’s Research Institute (MMCRI) has received a $203,000 grant sub-award from West Virginia University for a National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) initiative to create a centralized national data platform that scientists can use to study COVID-19 and identify potential treatments.

The National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C) is a partnership among more than 35 institutions that are funded by the National Institutes of Health, including the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program hubs, the Clinical and Translational Research (CTR) Program Networks and the National Center for Data to Health (CD2H), with overall stewardship by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Collaborators will contribute and use COVID-19 clinical data to answer critical research questions to address the pandemic.

Participating health care organizations send in de-identified clinical, laboratory and diagnostic data from patients tested for COVID-19. The N3C platform aggregates the information into a standard format, making it available to scientists and researchers exploring how to improve clinical care for the disease.

“The N3C platform allows researchers access to vast amounts of data without health care institutions having to share personally identifiable information about their patients,” said Susan Santangelo, Sc.D., the site Principal Investigator for N3C at MMCRI. “This collaboration may help us save lives.”

N3C allows scientists to access up to three levels of data for analysis:

  • The Synthetic Data Set is an artificial, statistically comparable, computational derivative of the original data that does not contain individually identifiable health information.
  • The De-Identified Data Set includes patient data that has been stripped of personal health information.
  • The Limited Data Set includes patients’ dates of service and zip codes.

Investigators need special permission from the designated Institutional Review Board overseeing the N3C project with a well-documented scientific reason in order to see the Limited Data Set.

MMCRI is able to participate in N3C because Dr. Santangelo used funding made available by MMCRI’s Northern New England Clinical and Translational Research Network (NNE-CTR) to bring the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) common data model to MaineHealth. The NNE-CTR is an NIH funded program to build clinical research infrastructure in Northern New England.
The OMOP research data warehouse has translated information from the electronic medical records of MaineHealth patients into two HIPAA-compliant data sets. One contains no personally identifiable information while the other contains a limited amount of personally identifiable data. The OMOP data sets are refreshed on a regular basis and transferred to N3C.

The OMOP research data warehouse has only existed at MaineHealth since the beginning of 2020. The hope is that it will be used by MaineHealth researchers studying many different conditions.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number U54GM104942. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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About Maine Medical Center
Maine Medical Center (MMC), recognized as a Best Regional Hospital by U.S. News and World Report for 2020-2021, is a complete health care resource for the people of Greater Portland and the entire state, as well as northern New England. Incorporated in 1868, MMC is the state’s largest medical center, licensed for 637 beds and employing more than 9,600 people. MMC's unique role as both a community hospital and a referral center requires an unparalleled depth and breadth of services, including an active educational program and a world-class biomedical research center. As a nonprofit institution, Maine Medical Center provides nearly 23 percent of all the charity care delivered in Maine. MMC is part of the MaineHealth system, a growing family of health care services in northern New England. For more information, visit www.mmc.org.


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