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UF Health joins research network developing a data repository on infectious diseases

William Hogan

With funding from a five-year, $6.7 million National Institutes of Health grant, researchers at UF Health have joined the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and other academic centers to form a collaborative research network focused on improving global knowledge of infectious diseases.

The NIH originally launched the Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study, or MIDAS, network in 2004 to help protect the nation from the threat of infectious diseases. The Pitt School of Medicine now will serve as the MIDAS Network Coordination Center, standardizing and uploading hundreds of existing infectious disease datasets into a central location to make it easier for researchers to share, find and use the data and software.

William Hogan, M.D., a professor in the UF College of Medicine’s department of health outcomes and biomedical informatics, will serve as the site lead for the project at UF. Hogan and his team will oversee the automation and conversion of infectious disease datasets into the standardized format used by the MIDAS Digital Commons.

The UF team also will continue to develop ontologies, or processes for standardizing, organizing and cataloging terminology and data to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the MIDAS database as a research tool.

“Ontology has revolutionized modern data management, enabling computers to search for, process and interpret large amounts of data in increasingly sophisticated ways,” Hogan said.

For the past four years, Hogan has performed similar work as director of biomedical informatics at the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the statewide OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium. The OneFlorida Data Trust, developed in 2015 with a $7.9 million funding award from the national Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, now houses electronic health records representing some 15 million patients throughout Florida. Hogan has more than 18 years of experience in biomedical informatics, including 10 years as a director of biomedical informatics.

Other MIDAS projects at the university include the development of innovative vaccine study designs so that agencies can implement vaccine trials quickly and effectively in the event of an outbreak. Led by Natalie Dean, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of biostatistics at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions and the UF College of Medicine, the project is supported by a five-year $3.5 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Key partners in the new MIDAS center are Wilbert Van Panhuis, M.D., Ph.D., of Pitt Public Health; Bruce Childers, Ph.D., of Pitt’s School of Computing and Information; Jeremy Espino, M.D., of Pitt’s Department of Biomedical Informatics; Kim Wong, Ph.D., of Pitt’s Center for Research Computing; Elizabeth Halloran, M.D., D.Sc., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; William Hogan, M.D., M.S., of the University of Florida; Lauren Ancel Meyers, Ph.D., of the University of Texas at Austin; and Nick Reich, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

This project is funded by National Institute of General Medical Sciences grant 1U24GM132013.

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