OMNITEC provides program management,development, and ongoing operation services to the National Database for Autism Research (NDAR) for its collaborative biomedical informatics web portal (http://ndar.nih.gov). The contract is both an expansion of and a follow-up to OMNITEC's previous consultative services, which included the provision of strategic guidance during the planning and creation of the NDAR web portal. The primary objective of NDAR, which was established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is to provide broad access to all quality research data relevant to the field of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) - regardless of where the data is located or its funding source. As a collaborative biomedical informatics platform, NDAR also provides researchers with collaboration opportunities, research tools, and a channel for the publication of research results. It has won the HHSInnovatesaward for "best innovations" in 2011 from Secretary Sebelius.
While the NDAR portal requires collaborative web technologies, support of complex data types, cross-platform database federation, and the rapid movement of terabytes of data, the key challenge was not primarily technological. It was a matter of overcoming legal, policy, and data-sharing roadblocks that limited significant collaboration. Historically, scientific research, including research into ASD, had been conducted in small labs on limited numbers of subjects. There was little emphasis on data definition standards, infrastructure to support data accumulation, or collaboration among many researchers. These limitations constituted a significant barrier to data sharing and scientific advances among the larger community of researchers. OMNITEC was charged by the NIH to overcome these roadblocks. Our objective was to lead the large, diverse stakeholder community to adopt, support, and help extend a bioinformatics platform that would advance scientific discovery. In response, OMNITEC defined an optimal solution that focused on three critical areas: (1) database definition and organization, (2) collaborative workflow, and (3) the development of information-sharing policies and procedures that would be acceptable to NDAR's many stakeholders.
OMNITEC's support capabilities include: [more]