One more ‘giant leap’: Four decades of cardiovascular research data now shareable

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In 1969, a human walked on the moon. I remember my parents waking me in the wee hours to watch (albeit bleary eyed) the grainy images on our black and white television as Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface. Heady stuff then and now.

In another world-altering advancement, Duke Clinical Research Institute announced that the world’s oldest (and largest) cardiovascular database will be made 487041685available to researchers. These records span from the year of the moon landing to 2013. This database is a particularly important one because heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the US.

More than 50,000 patient records have been anonymized and data from more than 100,000 procedures are included. SAS will provide data management and analytics tools to help in exploration and analysis of the data. DCRI is implementing a data governance plan to make sure that researchers have reliable data sets and that access requests are processed as quickly as possible. Researchers should contact SOAR, DCRI’s project website, for access.

One of the goals of this collaboration is to encourage a new era of transparency and openness for the public good, according to DCRI Executive Director Eric Peterson, MD, MPH.

“SAS provides the environment and analytics to spur advances in cancer research through the Project Data Sphere initiative. The company also promotes new medical research through its work with the pharmaceutical industry to share clinical trial data from nearly 600 studies with researchers around the world. This new collaboration with the DCRI will foster more clinical research and data sharing, with the aim of improving people’s health today and tomorrow,” according to Matt Gross, Director of the SAS Health Care and Life Sciences Global Practice.

About a year or so after Apollo 11 made its historic voyage, my grandfather, a relatively young man at the time, had a heart attack (and I seem to recall that he was later treated at Duke). He was lucky to live a full and fairly healthy life, and my hope is that this data will allow researchers find treatments that help reverse the trend of cardiovascular diseases in our lifetime.

I’m proud that SAS is helping DCRI lead the way in data-driven health care.

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Jeff Alford

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