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JAMIA Open ; 4(2): ooab036, 2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1266122


Clinical data networks that leverage large volumes of data in electronic health records (EHRs) are significant resources for research on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Data harmonization is a key challenge in seamless use of multisite EHRs for COVID-19 research. We developed a COVID-19 application ontology in the national Accrual to Clinical Trials (ACT) network that enables harmonization of data elements that are critical to COVID-19 research. The ontology contains over 50 000 concepts in the domains of diagnosis, procedures, medications, and laboratory tests. In particular, it has computational phenotypes to characterize the course of illness and outcomes, derived terms, and harmonized value sets for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 laboratory tests. The ontology was deployed and validated on the ACT COVID-19 network that consists of 9 academic health centers with data on 14.5M patients. This ontology, which is freely available to the entire research community on GitHub at, will be useful for harmonizing EHRs for COVID-19 research beyond the ACT network.

J Clin Transl Sci ; 5(1): e92, 2021 Feb 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1230845


Biospecimen repositories play a vital role in enabling investigation of biologic mechanisms, identification of disease-related biomarkers, advances in diagnostic assays, recognition of microbial evolution, and characterization of new therapeutic targets for intervention. They rely on the complex integration of scientific need, regulatory oversight, quality control in collection, processing and tracking, and linkage to robust phenotype information. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified many of these considerations and illuminated new challenges, all while academic health centers were trying to adapt to unprecedented clinical demands and heightened research constraints not witnessed in over 100 years. The outbreak demanded rapid understanding of SARS-CoV-2 to develop diagnostics and therapeutics, prompting the immediate need for access to high quality, well-characterized COVID-19-associated biospecimens. We surveyed 60 Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) hubs to better understand the strategies and barriers encountered in biobanking before and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Feedback revealed a major shift in biorepository model, specimen-acquisition and consent process from a combination of investigator-initiated and institutional protocols to an enterprise-serving strategy. CTSA hubs were well equipped to leverage established capacities and expertise to quickly respond to the scientific needs of this crisis through support of institutional approaches in biorepository management.