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Vol. LVIII, No. 5
March 10, 2006

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NCRR To Track Developments in Clinical Research Informatics

As part of its activities to reengineer clinical research, the National Center for Research Resources has announced that it will fund a 2-year effort to track developments and to inform the intramural and extramural research communities in the area of clinical research information technology. NCRR has contracted the nonprofit Mitre Corp. to provide a series of targeted research reports on the rapidly changing informatics landscape, as well as to provide strategic advice. Under the arrangement, NCRR will provide $1.23 million for the project that will be overseen by senior adviser Dr. Peter Highnam and will be reviewed by an informatics team at NCRR. Mitre, based in McLean, Va., operates a federally funded research and development center with expertise in enterprise systems. This FFRDC also supports the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"It is critical that we closely monitor the changes occurring in biomedical informatics so that we can ensure interoperability among researchers and institutions to provide for maximum efficiencies for data exchange and analysis," said Dr. Barbara Alving, NCRR acting director.

Mitre will investigate current informatics used for clinical research, propose and analyze future approaches, monitor trends and forecast the evolution of related technologies developed by both public and private entities. The company also will monitor and analyze academic, federal and commercial informatics developments that could affect clinical research. These include the work of the ONC on the Federal Health Architecture and the National Health Information Network, and new research infrastructure tools such as the Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid and the Bioinformatics Research Network. Information, best practices, analysis and recommendations will be provided in monthly research reports, which will be made public on the NCRR web site at The reports are expected to help guide strategic planning efforts across NIH and among its grantees.

"It is particularly important for the country's clinical research centers to receive informatics advice now as they plan to apply for NCRR's new program, Clinical and Translational Science Awards, which stresses the importance of leveraging efforts in health care informatics and facilitating intra- and inter-institutional collaborations," said Dr. Anthony Hayward, director of NCRR's Division for Clinical Research Resources.

NCRR project officer Highnam can be contacted at