OHSU to launch new, separate data network for researchers

As OHSU’s research enterprise has grown in size and sophistication, the technology infrastructure to support scientists and researchers has also needed to evolve.

OHSU is launching the Research Data Network project, which will improve and extend critical computing and network infrastructure in ways that are specifically designed to support the research community. The three-year capital investment was developed in response to faculty need and has been informed by faculty input.

Phased project will optimize computing environment for research

The phased project will:

  • Create a separate data classification for research data
  • Support specialized research equipment and data workflows
  • Enable and enhance remote device access, including access by non-OHSU personnel, such as instrument vendors
  • Support multi-institutional collaboration by providing remote access to non-OHSU researchers
  • Support high-volume data transfer and provide more flexible data storage options
  • Streamline the research hardware acquisition process
  • Train ITG personnel to support the network and assist with non-standard computer hardware

“The Research Data Network is a welcome and necessary investment in our research infrastructure,” said Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., chief research officer. “It aligns with OHSU 2025’s objective to develop an integrated research informatics infrastructure, and will advance science through these institutional investments that stabilize and enhance our research capacity.”

“OHSU’s reputation as a premier research institution hinges on our researchers’ ability to easily and quickly access and store the data they need. The Research Data Network is a major step forward in shoring up OHSU’s technological foundation to better allow for innovation and global partnership,” said Bridget Barnes, M.B.A., M.S.E.M., chief information officer and vice president.


ITG will provide a separate, specialized research data network.

This segmented network will be configured to optimize functionality for a wide variety of research devices and specialized instruments that support for unique computing needs within individual labs.

The high-speed data transfer tool Globus will be available within this network, and the security review process for devices placed within the network will be streamlined.

“These days, custom hardware and far-flung collaborations are the norm,” said Stephen David, Ph.D., associate professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery and behavioral neuroscience, OHSU School of Medicine, whose lab investigates the neurophysiological and computational processes that underlie the auditory brain to improve engineered systems for sensory signal processing.

He added, “The Research Data Network will give my lab the computational flexibility it needs while preserving the security and stability required for OHSU’s protected health information (PHI) data.”

Pilot testing for the Research Data Network will begin in February 2020 with seven preselected labs and will last through the end of 2020. Based on what is learned in the pilot labs, broader implementation is expected to begin in late 2020.

“Innovations in how we gather, analyze and share data for research have outpaced our ability to support researchers on OHSU’s network,” said David Dorr, M.D., M.S., chief research information officer. “The Research Data Network is intended to improve researchers’ experience across the continuum of data needs. Our goal is to make it easier to do the research you need to do at OHSU.”


Over the years, faculty have shared feedback with research and IT leaders about improvements needed to allow them to efficiently create, integrate, process and share data in support of scientific inquiry.

For example, scientists working with molecules, cells or animals, but not human data, described barriers they faced in OHSU’s current computing environment; at times it does not provide the flexibility needed to both protect OHSU’s intellectual property and allow the collaboration necessary for innovation to thrive.

The collective input from the research community formed the basis of the Committee on Research Computing Needs, comprised of leaders from research and ITG (listed below).

The group, after reviewing needs and uses, auditing peer institutions and reviewing OHSU policies, proposed a separate data network to optimize IT for research, which OHSU approved this summer.

“This project is an excellent example of successfully meeting a critical infrastructure need by involving faculty throughout the process,” said Mary Heinricher, Ph.D., associate dean for research, OHSU School of Medicine. “The end result will relieve computing pain points for our investigators and provide the advanced computing environment and network infrastructure we need to solve complex biomedical questions. It’s an exciting project.”


ITG project managers will keep the research community updated as the effort moves forward.

For questions about the project or to learn more, contact Jacob Schwartzman at risxsupport@jira.ohsu.edu or through the user portal: https://jira.ohsu.edu/servicedesk/customer/portal/2/group/81.

Committee on Research Computing Needs

Bridget Barnes, M.B.A., M.S.E.M., Chief Information Officer and Vice President, OHSU

Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., Chief Research Officer and Executive Vice President, OHSU

David Dorr, M.D., M.S., Chief Research Information Officer, OHSU

Mary Heinricher, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research, OHSU School of Medicine

David Robinson, Ph.D., Executive Vice Provost, OHSU

Bill Rooney, Ph.D., Director of the Advanced Imaging Research Center, OHSU

Paul Spellman, Ph.D., Interim Director of Computational Biology, OHSU School of Medicine