Precision Health announces Analytics Platform at recent symposium

June 19, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Michigan Medicine News

With U-M Precision Health’s new Analytics Platform, researchers across campus now have access to genetic data, clinical data and tools previously available only to Michigan Medicine faculty and other level-two password holders.

This platform, developed by Precision Health’s Data Analytics & IT workgroup, provides campuswide access to research tools such as DataDirect and services such as consultation with scientific facilitators.

Precision Health co-director Sachin Kheterpal, M.D., M.B.A., unveiled the Analytics Platform in his opening remarks at the U-M Precision Health Symposium on May 29.

“This is an exciting new platform available to campus researchers with a level-one password; no level-two password required,” Kheterpal said. “It’s not just software, it’s people also: scientific facilitators to help you understand what the data is, and what it can and can’t do. We’ve got genetic and clinical data linked together and people to help you through the process.”

A key component of the platform is DataDirect, a user-friendly self-serve software tool developed and managed by the Data Office for Clinical and Translational Research, a unit of the U-M Medical School Office of Research.

DataDirect enables researchers to access and explore clinical and genetic data from the Michigan Genomics Initiative (MGI) cohort. MGI comprises a broad portfolio of data from more than 65,000 individuals, and continues to add approximately 10,000 new participants annually. Participants in MGI may be re-contacted in the future for follow-up studies if they have a genotype or clinical condition of interest to U-M scientific investigators.

The option of one-on-one technical research assistance is another key feature of the Analytics Platform in facilitating cutting-edge medical research.

Precision Health scientific research facilitators are on hand to guide investigators across campus on how to assemble datasets in a HIPAA-aligned environment. Facilitators also help researchers navigate self-serve tools such as DataDirect and EMERSE (U-M’s Electronic Medical Record Search Engine), pull clinical data, submit biospecimen inquiries, assemble subject survey data and more.

Analysts specialized in genetic studies provide guidance for designing and implementing studies in a dataset with more than 20 million genetic markers in each individual. For investigators interested in performing additional genetic analyses, DataDirect provides a line of sight into DNA samples from MGI participants available through the Medical School Central Biorepository.

Data Office tools and resources, available via the Analytics Platform, will allow researchers to combine genetic and clinical MGI participant data. This includes the ability to link clinical phenotype data to genotype data and facilitation of GWAS analysis. Researchers can then store, analyze and access their data in secure Linux- or Windows-based environments.

“This platform increases access to health data and secure compute environments, facilitating interdisciplinary collaborations and ultimately accelerating research in precision health,” said Jenna Wiens, Ph.D., co-lead of Precision Health’s Data Analytics & IT workgroup.

The Precision Health Analytics Platform will continue to grow to address the needs of researchers and enrich its offerings. There are plans to expand the de-identified structured dataset from the MGI population to the whole Michigan Medicine patient population (more than 4 million) later in 2019. Plans are also in the works to acquire, structure and expose new datasets for the MGI cohort, including more clinical data, SureScripts data, geocoding data and more.

For more information about the Analytics Platform, including a link to a User Guide, click here or contact Scientific Research Facilitators at