NIH grants to fund research using EHRs, informatics

October 29, 2009
Ron Rajecki
Ron Rajecki

Several entities will receive more than $90 million in funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for efforts involving electronic health records (EHRs) or informatics it was recently announced.

Several entities will receive more than $90 million in funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for efforts involving electronic health records (EHRs) or informatics it was recently announced. Over two years, the NIH will award 22 grants totaling more than $54 million to Kaiser Permanente to conduct health research in a multitude of public and clinical health areas. The bulk of this research will use Kaiser Permanente’s EHRs, which the health system says is the world’s largest civilian EHR database.

“We have a unique opportunity in front of us right now to transform and reform the way we deliver healthcare in this country,” says John H. Cochran, MD, executive director of the Permanente Federation, in a prepared statement. “Kaiser Permanente believes that through evidence-based research and health information technology, we can change how personalized health care is delivered.”

Also, the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded a five-year, $27.7 million contract to the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech, which will be used to integrate information about pathogens, provide resources and tools to scientists, and help researchers analyze genomic, proteomic, and other data arising from infectious disease research.

Over the past five years, VBI has worked with other institutions “to put in place informatics-based capabilities deployed as large-scale information systems,” says Bruno Sobral, professor and director of the CyberInfrastructure Group and principal investigator of the project, in a prepared statement. “As we move ahead, we will be working hand-in-hand with a wide range of partners, including medical schools and public health institutions interested in translating the very latest scientific discoveries and innovation into practical health benefits for society at large.”

In other news, the NIH’s Fogarty International Center will award more than $9.23 million to eight global health informatics programs over the next five years through its Informatics Training for Global Health program, which is intended to increase informatics expertise in low- and middle-income countries by training scientists to design information systems and apply computer-supported management and analysis to biomedical research.

“The application of informatics allows our clinicians in low-resource settings to leverage new technologies in order to speed discoveries,” says Fogarty Director Roger I. Glass, MD, PhD. “These new awards will enable researchers to better analyze data, compare results among populations, and quickly share findings with colleagues around the world.”