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.

Update on Review of Letters of Intent Submitted under RM-17-026
NIH has reviewed the Letters of Intent (LOIs) received in response to the Other Transaction Research Opportunity Announcement “NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase” RM-17-026. All parties who submitted LOIs in response to RM-17-026 should have received a decision letter from NIH at this time. Please contact if you submitted an LOI, but have not received a decision letter.

There may be additional opportunities to participate in the Data Commons Pilot as specific needs are identified. To keep informed about NIH’s Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiatives, please subscribe to the BD2K Updates Listserv. Any future opportunities to participate in the NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase will be announced on this page.

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 July 19, 2017