The Biomedical Informatics and Cyberinfrastructure Enhancement Core of Advance-CTR has been developing resources and infrastructure to support the expansion of data-driven research opportunities for all investigators in Rhode Island, regardless of institutional affiliation.

See what's available to you now and what's coming: 



Available Now (Gamma Phase/Live):

The Unified Research data Sharing and Analysis (URSA) Initiative (formerly Unified Research data Sharing and Access) is focused on making data accessible and usable for research purposes by the Advance-CTR community.

Working in close collaboration with information services, compliance programs, and research offices at Brown and Advance-CTR data partners, this signature effort consists of:

  • URSA Cyberinfrastructure: Servers (Linux and Windows), databases, and network connections both within and outside the secure Stronghold computing environment at Brown as well as with health data partners (e.g., Lifespan and Rhode Island Quality Institute). In particular, URSA Stronghold is actively being used for analysis of electronic health data using general purpose programming languages like Julia and Python, as well as statistical programming languages such as R and SAS. The URSA Cyberinfrastructure continues to be enhanced and expanded to support the computing needs of investigators while ensuring privacy and security requirements designed to meet institutional, state, and federal requirements.
  • URSA Data Requests: Aggregate statistics and datasets (de-identified, limited, identified, or linked) for supporting the breadth of research studies. Local data sources include Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems (Lifespan, Care New England, and Providence VA Medical Center), CurrentCare Health Information Exchange (Rhode Island Quality Institute), and HealthFacts RI All-Payer Claims Database (Rhode Island Department of Health). In addition, efforts are being made to centralize and coordinate access to publicly-accessible datasets (e.g., from the National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 
  • URSA Governance: Responsible for formalizing and enforcing policies, procedures, and processes for using the URSA Cyberinfrastructure and fulfilling URSA Data Requests. This governance structure includes stakeholders from health data partners, COBRE Center for Computational Biology of Human Disease (CBHD), and Computing and Information Services (CIS) at Brown. 
  • URSA Computational Tools: Available or under active development for processing and analyzing data from diverse sources (see BCBI Software and Web Apps). This includes open-source or publicly-accessible tools for de-identification (DeIdentification.jl), machine learning (PredictMD.jl), and natural language processing (e.g., MetaMap).

How to Access: Please complete Advance-CTR’s Service Request Form to get started with a consult and learn about availability and access to URSA-related resources. Advance-CTR strives to deliver timely service to all investigators; however, please note that a Service Prioritization Policy does apply and some investigators may experience delays. Please contact [email protected] with questions. 

Biomedical Informatics and Data Science Training

Semester-long and short courses are available including the 5x5 Clinical Informatics Short Course: 5 Topics and Computing Skills in 5 Days for medical residents/fellows and junior faculty. This course is offered periodically and provides hands-on experience with essential computing skills for electronic health data analysis using the URSA Cyberinfrastructure. The knowledge and skills obtained through this course will prepare participants for more advanced one-day sessions and other courses offered throughout the year (e.g., in statistics, machine learning, natural language processing, and visualization). 

See a full listing of courses along with descriptions and syllabi for more information. The next offering of the 5x5 Clinical Informatics Short Course is planned for Winter 2019/2020. Subscribe to the Advance-CTR email newsletter for updates and announcements. 

Coming Soon (Beta Phase):

statewide REDCap instance will soon be available to RI investigators. The REDCap Soft Launch is currently underway, and general access will be available once this pilot stage is complete. 

In the meantime, explore REDCap resources and workshops on

Don't Miss: A new lineup of fall REDCap workshops are now available. Sign up now

In Planning (Pre-Alpha/Alpha Phase):

Platforms are being explored to support cohort discovery at local, regional, and national levels (e.g., i2b2 tranSMARTi2b2/SHRINE, and TriNetX). 

Updates and more information about each of these resources and services will be posted on and in the weekly email newsletter as they are available. Please contact [email protected] with any questions, or complete the Service Request Form to get started with services and support.