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Last modified: Thursday, July 21, 2011

Indiana CTSI leads tech partnership with Big Ten group to improve access to scientific resources

July 21, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) is pioneering a new technology collaboration with the Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago to facilitate access to cutting-edge online tools that ease information sharing and group work among researchers at multiple institutions.

All universities within the Committee for Institutional Cooperation (CIC), a consortium of Midwestern universities dedicated to advancing academic missions through sharing expertise and campus resources, may now access translational research resources at Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame through the Indiana CTSI HUB online portal. The access is made possible by using federated identities, a technology that enables researchers at universities to safely and securely use their own institutional usernames and passwords to access the website.

William Barnett

William Barnett

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"This technology's been around for a while, but no one's ever put it into practice for institutional collaborations," said Bill Barnett, senior manager of life sciences research technologies at IU's Pervasive Technology Institute and director for information architectures at the Indiana CTSI. A PTI team led by Barnett completed the technical implementation of the federated identities functionality. "This project establishes a broad network of trust in support of advancing medical research."

The Indiana CTSI and the CIC institutions are providing leadership by "stepping forward to show what happens when 13 institutions federate their identities with one virtual organization," he said.

The Indiana CTSI HUB provides a number of online services that make it easier for distributed research teams to share information and undertake science across multiple institutions. These include REDCap (Research Electronic Data CAPture), a database management system for capturing, utilizing and sharing research data from Vanderbilt University, and Alfresco Share, a file-sharing system that enables investigators to securely transfer potentially sensitive clinical health data across trusted institutions. The project also lays the foundation for the development of more advanced research tools that will help researchers make new discoveries and ultimately, create new products and therapies.

Anantha Shekhar

Anantha Shekhar

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"We believe that enabling the use of federated identities to access translational resources across the CIC institutions is a great first step in creating a seamless network of Clinical and Translational Science Award-funded institutions across the Midwest," said CTSI Director Anantha Shekhar. "Good things will happen when communities of institutions come together."

About the Indiana CTSI

The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute is a statewide collaboration of IU, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame, as well as public and private partnerships, which facilitates the translation of scientific discoveries in the lab into new patient treatments in Indiana and beyond. Established in 2008 with a $25 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) of the National Institutes of Health, supplemented by approximately $60 million from the state, the three member universities and public and private partners, the Indiana CTSI is a member of a national network of 60 CTSA-funded organizations across the United States.

For more information, visit To speak with Barnett or Shekhar, please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or