All universities within the Committee for Institutional Cooperation (CIC), a consortium of Midwestern universities dedicated to advancing academic missions through sharing expertise and campus resources, may now access translational research resources at Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame through the Indiana CTSI HUB online portal. The access is made possible by using federated identities, a technology that enables researchers at universities to safely and securely use their own institutional usernames and passwords to access the website.
“This technology’s been around for a while, but no one’s ever put it into practice for institutional collaborations,” said Bill Barnett, senior manager of life sciences research technologies at IU’s Pervasive Technology Institute and director for information architectures at the Indiana CTSI. “This project establishes a broad network of trust in support of advancing medical research.”
The Indiana CTSI and the CIC institutions are providing leadership by “stepping forward to show what happens when 13 institutions federate their identities with one virtual organization,” he said.
The Indiana CTSI HUB provides a number of online services that make it easier for distributed research teams to share information and undertake science across multiple institutions. These include REDCap (Research Electronic Data CAPture), a database management system for capturing, utilizing and sharing research data from Vanderbilt University, and Alfresco Share, a file-sharing system that enables investigators to securely transfer potentially sensitive clinical health data across trusted institutions. The project also lays the foundation for the development of more advanced research tools that will help researchers make new discoveries and ultimately, create new products and therapies.
“We believe that enabling the use of federated identities to access translational resources across the CIC institutions is a great first step in creating a seamless network of Clinical and Translational Science Award-funded institutions across the Midwest,” said Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Indiana CTSI. “Good things will happen when communities of institutions come together.”