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American Medical Informatics Association outlines priorities for data science research -

Nation's health and biomedical informatics professionals have urged the National Library of Medicine to lead Data Science efforts across the National Institutes of Health.

In comments submitted recently, the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) offered numerous suggestions on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) could lead data science research efforts in health and biomedicine. Further, the nation's experts in health and biomedical informatics provided policy and research ideas in support of the NLM fulfilling a 2015 Advisory Committee recommendation to become the 'intellectual and programmatic epicenter for data science at the NIH.'

The NLM issued a Request for Information in September, seeking input from stakeholders on promising directions for new data science research in health and biomedicine, including on ways to make science more open and reproducible. The RFI also asked for input on trends in workforce development and new partnerships that could bolster data science in health and biomedicine.

In response to the RFI, AMIA said "the NLM is uniquely positioned to foster data science competencies, develop, or fund, data science tools/services, and otherwise be the pan-NIH home for data science." The group recommended that the NLM focus research on the 'basic science' of data standards; enable and improve open science and research reproducibility through research that will foster trust and assurance in the scientific process; and build on its leadership in informatics education and training through cross-cutting and multidisciplinary programs.

AMIA noted that health and biomedicine are undergoing rapid digitisation, supported by an evolving IT and data ecosystem, and that now is the time to make progress on the systematic and strategic use of data. AMIA recommended that the NLM lead an effort to develop granular data specifications so that different combinations and substitutions of discrete data elements could facilitate data re-use and interoperability. Other areas of basic research could include improved methodologies for data capture from patients and providers, data storage, measuring data accuracy and development of metadata, especially for data traceability, provenance, and accuracy, AMIA said.

AMIA also recommended that the NLM lead NIH-wide efforts to improve data sharing by making Data Sharing Plans scorable elements of grant applications subject to the existing policy, and that the NLM could help develop metrics to evaluate the quality and fit-for-purpose of digital repositories, as well as help develop citations polices that could promote open science.

Finally, AMIA recommended that the NLM build on its leadership in informatics education and training by ensuring that basic informatics training is supported broadly across health and biomedical domains; encouraging cross-cutting and multidisciplinary programs at the post-graduate and undergraduate levels; and initiating new research on how scientists document their data analysis and information methods.

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