BRISSkit designed a national shared service brokered by JANET to host, implement and deploy biomedical research database applications that support the management and integration of tissue samples with clinical data and electronic patient records. We were uniquely positioned to tackle this through our experience in developing the pioneering open source IT infrastructure for the Biomedical Research Informatics Centre for Cardiovascular Science in the NIHR Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit (BRU). Anonymised versions of patient sensitive databases were hosted for University researchers on a LAMP stack platform implemented by the University of Leicester IT Research Computing Service in a VMware environment. We worked across the range of stakeholders in clinical, University and international biomedical research to deploy appropriate, secure, affordable and reliable services in this key strategic area for the UK.

Aims and objectives

The primary objective was to design, deliver and begin to exploit a data hosting service for researchers in the field of Bioinformatics. Sensitive, attributable clinical data was hosted on infrastructure managed by UHLT. De-identified versions of this data were replicated to a cloud based infrastructure and made available to researchers. This established best practice for similar initiatives both within the UoL/UHLT and nationally.

In achieving this, the following additional learning objectives were met:

  • A service delivery model and policies for supporting successful research using this approach were established.
  • The costs and benefits of undertaking research using this service were established
  • The strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities associated with using this approach were assessed

Project methodology

The solution was developed collaboratively to meet the requirements of the UoL Departments of Cardiovascular Sciences, Genetics & Health Sciences as well as the UHLT. Maximum benefit was gained by sharing experience with others notably the DCC, JISC, JANET, Eduserv and the other institutions who are part of the UMF cloud computing programme, assisted by Charles Beagrie Ltd.

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