Informatics & IT
The Institute’s basic and translational science research generates a wide variety of data with a diverse range of sizes. The Research Informatics team provides support to ensure that the data are captured and made available to researchers in integrated ways to support discovery and translational science.
The Institute has invested significantly in providing end-to-end informatics capabilities to support its strategic direction of basic science through to experimental medicine and translation.
The REDCap platform supports clinical trials and studies through a form-based interface for capturing longitudinal data in a GDPR-compliant database. We have expertise in extending this platform to interface with third-party applications which allow bespoke ways for patients to enter data directly as well as integrating other data sources as required.
Increasingly, translational informatics depends not only upon clinical data but also upon associated molecular information from genomics and digital pathology. Furthermore, there are now opportunities to assess such data across related diseases, providing the ability to look for novel biomarkers that might transcend these diseases.
In collaboration with Arthritis Therapy Acceleration Programme (A-TAP) and the Gastroenterology and Mucosal Immunity Theme within the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (OxBRC), we have implemented the tranSMART informatics platform which supports the integrative capture and presentation of molecular and clinical data in a web interface. By providing basic statistical and visualisation tools within tranSMART to our scientists and clinicians, new hypotheses generation possibilities are made available.
DATA MANAGEMENT AND SHARING
Day to day capture of laboratory research is possible using electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) such as LabArchives, a web-based platform which allows scientists to capture all aspects of their work from methods through to data and conclusion in a searchable system. The Research Informatics team has many years of experience of using a variety of ELN and LIMS platforms ensuring that the right choices are made for data capture at the start of projects.
High-content imaging datasets from super-resolution platforms, as well as systems such as the CODEX present unique data storage and sharing opportunities. We are adopting the OMERO web-based microscopy database system for managing and presenting such datasets in an intuitive and interactive manner.
We are able to provide significant expertise with the data lifecycle including ensuring standards compliant definitions of the data, as well as validation and curation. This important informatics approach helps to ensure that the Institute’s data adhere to FAIR sharing making it easier for the scientific community to find and reuse our findings.
RESOURCE AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
Getting the most out of the Institute's broad range of capabilities is an important aspect of the team's work. We provide advanced web-based booking facilities for key pieces of equipment which are capable of optimising their use and pre-calculating access charges before the bookings are made.
The flexibility to rapidly provide bespoke solutions Institute needs is a key strength of the team. For example, we have written bespoke applications to assist the facilities team and lab manager in their work, and a web platform to track NDORMS’ publications in the context of REF2021.
IT FRONT-LINE SUPPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Appropriate IT capabilities underpin everything we do at the Institute. The Research Informatics team provides responsive front-line IT desktop support for all members of the Institute in collaboration with MSD-IT Services and the SGC Oxford Research Informatics Team. Our mantra is that IT should 'just work' and enable science rather than hinder it.
The Institute’s IT infrastructure includes filestore capabilities along with long-term archive of data to tape. Our virtual machine platform allows us to provision new servers for applications on demand allowing us to support our scientists within short time-frames in a highly flexible manner.
We also provide systems administration support for the Institute’s high performance compute and storage platform, kgen, which underpins the computational biology work at the Kennedy.