Last updated: 06-11-2021

About Biomedical Data Translator

As a result of recent scientific advances, a tremendous amount of data is available from biomedical research and clinical interactions with patients, health records, clinical trials and adverse event reports that could be useful for understanding health and disease and for developing and identifying treatments for diseases. Ideally, these data would be mined collectively to provide insights into the relationship between molecular and cellular processes (the targets of rational drug design) and the signs and symptoms of diseases. Currently, these very rich yet different data sources are housed in various locations, often in forms that are not compatible or interoperable with each other. All of these factors limit the ability to get more treatments to more patients more quickly.

To address these problems, NCATS launched the Biomedical Data Translator program, called “Translator” for short. This multiyear, iterative effort will culminate in the development of a comprehensive, relational, N-dimensional Biomedical Data Translator that integrates multiple types of existing data sources, including objective signs and symptoms of disease, drug effects, and intervening types of biological data relevant to understanding pathophysiology.

Listen to former NCATS Director Christopher P. Austin, M.D., explain the purpose and goals of the Biomedical Data Translator program.

To realize the vision of the Biomedical Data Translator and transition from the feasibility assessment phase to a working platform that serves as a resource to the translational research community, NCATS is funding new teams of scientists, physicians, bioinformaticists and programmers to begin the development phase of the Translator. In fiscal year 2020, NCATS awarded approximately $13.5 million to establish the initial Biomedical Data Translator Consortium.

The platform the Consortium members create, funded through NCATS’s Other Transactions Authority, will be designed to —

  • Help researchers understand the pathophysiology of human disease.
  • Connect clinical observations with molecular etiology.
  • Identify shared molecular etiologies underlying multiple diseases.
  • Redefine diseases through new clinical endotypes and clinical regroupings.
  • Identify new opportunities for drug repurposing.
  • Facilitate the generation of new hypotheses for understanding and treating disease.

These teams will be integral parts of a community that builds software to support translational science and allow innovations and discoveries that could lead to incredible leaps in biomedical research. They will work in a highly collaborative culture to build on the work completed during the feasibility phase of the program.

The Consortium will develop community standards for data re-use, build and disseminate common services for Translator, support the integration of existing medical and biological data sources, and produce tools that augment human reasoning and inference for understanding the pathophysiology of human disease.

While the software is being developed, Translator teams will have programmatic access to network resources to allow the design, implementation and testing of their software. NCATS will host regular consortium-wide meetings, as well as periodic user-focused meetings and in-person development sprints on specific topics.

Translator Articles and News

Learn how the Biomedical Data Translator program aims to help researchers more easily access and interrelate different data and languages.

Contact Translator

Translator staff