NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase Explores Using the Cloud to Access and Share *FAIR Biomedical Big Data

*Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable

The NIH, under the BD2K program, will be launching a Data Commons Pilot Phase to test ways to store, access and share FAIR biomedical data and associated tools in the cloud.

NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase Research Opportunity Announcement RM-17-026

The NIH Common Fund issued Research Opportunity Announcement RM-17-026 to support several awards as part of an NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase Consortium.

August 30, 2017: Update on review of OT3 applications received in response to RM-17-026. NIH has completed its review of applications received in response to RM-17-026. NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase program staff are working through final internal approvals before approaching potential awardees for negotiation. NIH Leadership intends to conduct a final review of proposed awardees September 8, 2017. NIH will inform all OT3 applicants of its final selections via email as soon as possible after 9/8/17, and will update this page once decisions have been sent out.

What Is a Data Commons?

A data commons is a way to share and provide access to digital objects, like the data generated during biomedical research, or the software and other tools needed to use the data. A commons would help NIH extract more value from the digital products of biomedical research by making them available to more researchers. Using a cloud-based data commons model will empower researchers to find and interact with data directly in the cloud without spending time and resources downloading large datasets to their own servers.

The Data Commons Pilot Phase will include the following activities

  • Establishing community-endorsed unifying principles and guidelines to govern how the Data Commons operates and what it means for digital objects in the Commons to be FAIR
  • Developing and testing cloud-based platforms to store, manage and interact with biomedical data and tools
  • Setting up the ability to access controlled-access data through appropriate authorization and authentication protocols
  • Harnessing and further developing community-based tools and services that support interoperability between existing biomedical data and tool repositories and portability between cloud service providers
  • Creating portals where users with all levels of expertise can access and interact with data and tools
  • Learning by doing, which involves developing agile, iterative pilots of the Data Commons architecture/platform, testing its utility, troubleshooting, and retesting
  • Analyzing and evaluating the products and processes of the Data Commons Pilot Phase for cost, utility, efficiency, usability, and adherence to FAIR data principles

The NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase is expected to span fiscal years 2017-2020, with an estimated total budget of approximately $55.5 Million, pending available funds.

Learn more about FAIR data principles.

For questions about the NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase, please contact

This page last reviewed on August 30, 2017