Integration of Data Systems and Technology Improves Research and Collaboration for a Superfund Research Center
AbstractLarge collaborative centers are a common model for accomplishing integrated environmental health research. These centers often include various types of scientific domains (e.g., chemistry, biology, bioinformatics) that are integrated to solve some of the nation’s key economic or public health concerns. The Superfund Research Center (SRP) at Oregon State University (OSU) is one such center established in 2008 to study the emerging health risks of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons while using new technologies both in the field and laboratory. With outside collaboration at remote institutions, success for the center as a whole depends on the ability to effectively integrate data across all research projects and support cores. Therefore, the OSU SRP center developed a system that integrates environmental monitoring data with analytical chemistry data and downstream bioinformatics and statistics to enable complete “source-to-outcome” data modeling and information management. This article describes the development of this integrated information management system that includes commercial software for operational laboratory management and sample management in addition to open-source custom-built software for bioinformatics and experimental data management.