Last updated: 09-13-2021

About the National COVID Cohort Collaborative

During public health emergencies like COVID-19, science — and the process of turning observations into new therapies — must be translated faster than ever. Vast amounts of clinical data are being generated that could be used to advance research efforts focused on COVID-19. These datasets often become too large to share and the networks for data management are so dissimilar that they cannot be combined easily, creating roadblocks along the path to developing new treatments. With no standardized way to collect and harmonize all this data being generated, there is an urgent need for a COVID-19 analytics platform that can turn all this data into new knowledge that can speed research efforts across the country. Making data more meaningful, open and accessible is a key goal in NCATS’ efforts to improve translational science and advance research across many diseases.

An effort called the National COVID Cohort Collaborative, or N3C, is building a centralized national data resource — the NCATS N3C Data Enclave — that the research community can use to study COVID-19 and identify potential treatments as the pandemic continues to evolve. Specifically, the N3C will enable the rapid collection and analysis of clinical, laboratory and diagnostic data from hospitals and health care plans. If successful, this approach will be applicable to other research questions and may serve as a model for addressing future public health emergencies.

The N3C is a partnership among the NCATS-supported Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program hubs, the National Center for Data to Health (CD2H), and NIGMS-supported Institutional Development Award Networks for Clinical and Translational Research (IDeA-CTR), with overall stewardship by NCATS. Collaborators will contribute and use COVID-19 clinical data to answer critical research questions to address the pandemic.

Learn more about the N3C and see a demonstration of the analytics platform:

An audio described version of the video is available.

About the Approach

The N3C marshals the NCATS-supported resources of CTSA Program hubs and the CD2H to speed research and clinical care efforts at local, regional and national levels. It also leverages an existing framework of collaborative informatics networks and NCATS-supported cloud resources.

The N3C systematically collects data derived from the electronic health records of people who were tested for the novel coronavirus or who had related symptoms. The data, which are provided by participating partners and other collaborators after executing a data transfer agreement with NCATS, are harmonized and managed in a way that maintains the data’s validity while protecting patient privacy.

NCATS asks medical institutions and health care organizations to contribute a limited data set, pursuant to the requirements in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.

A limited data set is defined as protected health information that excludes certain direct identifiers of an individual or of relatives, employers or household members of the individual — but that may include city, state, ZIP code and elements of dates. A limited data set can be disclosed only for purposes of research, public health or health care operations.

Learn more about the requirements for accessing different levels of data in the N3C Data Enclave.

The N3C makes the harmonized data available via a centralized, secure analytics platform. Learn more about accessing N3C data.

This N3C Data Enclave is a cloud-based research environment provided by NCATS. As such, NCATS serves as steward of the data. The Center is taking multiple precautions for security and privacy to keep these data safe within its protected cloud infrastructure.

For more details about this effort, including information on contributing and accessing N3C data, please see the N3C FAQs.

If you have questions about the N3C, including those related to data transfer and the analytics platform, please email