UB’s new biorepository: a bright sign for data, research and partnership

Published May 13, 2019

A research scientist at UB.

Some of the University at Buffalo’s most exciting work is being done in clinical and translational science: revelatory medical research, conducted in community partnership, for the betterment of patients and new professionals alike. Data is the lifeblood of that research, and our IT organization has been developing valuable new approaches to supporting this work.

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One exciting example: UB’s partnership with Kaleida Health on a regional biorepository for research, education and the treatment of liver diseases. UBIT is taking the lead on housing, running and maintaining the software needed, as well as managing the enormous amount of data involved in this new “biobank.”

This has been a multi-year process, since President Tripathi, Provost Zukowski and others in leadership tasked UBIT with taking responsibility for the housing, management and protection of UB’s most sensitive and fastest growing data resources.

During that time, data has become a consideration in every aspect of UBIT’s operational strategy, from infrastructure to security. And our team has been evolving to rise to that challenge: undergoing internal and external evaluation, modernizing our equipment and services and adding new skillsets to our repertoire of human talent. 

We started by ensuring HIPAA compliance for smaller datasets. Then, we partnered with the School of Dental Medicineto house their electronic medical records. This repository marks our biggest step in this new direction, with benefits—which will scale as the technology does—for the community, the university and our collaborators. Last year, UBIT migrated the UB Institute for Healthcare Informatics’ research data environment to UB’s enterprise data center.

These building blocks have formed a foundation that can be easily expanded as university data needs grow. Scale is a critical consideration; we are anticipating the inclusion and linking of new and growing data sets in the future, which will better enable research and give the university’s growing cohort of partners the incentives and confidence needed to work closely in collaboration.

A strength of our IT organization has always been the resilience of our people. When tasked with changing technology landscapes, new goals and ambitious challenges, they stay focused and keep moving forward. Their hard work has made this possible. 

As UB continue to cultivate partnerships and lead the way in transformative research, I’m proud—and we all should be—to see the efforts of IT paying off for the university, the region, and the world.

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