In November 2014 the National Institute of Health (NIH) launched the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative as a trans-NIH, community-enabled endeavor towards maximizing the collective value of current and future biomedical digital assets to better inform and protect human health.
The BD2K initiative encourages the broad use of biomedical digital assets by making them discoverable, accessible and citable. In doing so, researchers need to take into account complex security issues. As Vivien Bonazzi, programme director in computational biology and bioinformatics at the National Human Genome Research Institute, explains: "When a person consents to have his or her data used in one way, researchers cannot suddenly change that use... In a big-data age that uses the cloud in addition to local hardware, new technologies in encryption and secure transmission will need to address such privacy concerns"
As biomedical datasets become increasingly large, diverse and complex, they tax conventional methods for sharing, managing and analyzing data. Additionally, researchers’ abilities to capitalize on biomedical big data science-based approaches are limited by poor data accessibility and interoperability, the lack of appropriate tools, and insufficient training. The BD2K initiative acts as a trans-NIH, community-enabled endeavor towards maximizing the collective value of current and future biomedical digital assets to better inform and protect human health. The aims of the BD2K initiative are to facilitate broad use of biomedical digital assets by making them discoverable, accessible and citable; to conduct research and develop the methods, software and tools needed to fully analyze biomedical big data; to enhance training in the development and use of methods and tools necessary for biomedical big data science; and to enable a data ecosystem that accelerates both basic and translational discovery as part of a digital enterprise.