Integrating Environmental Health Data to Advance Discovery

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January 10-11, 2013
Keck Center, Room 100
500 Fifth Street NW
Washington D.C

Research in biomedical sciences has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past two decades.  Science is increasingly data-intensive, computational, interdisciplinary, and collaborative. This trend toward “Big Data” is pervasive throughout science and imposing new challenges for biomedical research along three dimensions, sometimes referred to as the three V’s: volume, velocity and variety. Only through the coordination of all three dimensions will the full potential of Big Data be realized. Whereas significant progress has been made in the development of digital technologies, community-wide principles and resource management for some large and rapidly expanding data types such as genomic sequences, integration of existing heterogeneous data sets (the variety component of the three V’s) has lagged. This lag presents particular challenges for environmental health sciences, which is uniquely and inherently cross-disciplinary. This meeting fostered discussion about the need for enhanced data integration in environmental health sciences, evaluated the lessons learned from integrative initiatives in other scientific domains, and strategized about the community’s role in taking major steps toward improving data coordination and access to advance understanding about environmental effects on human health.