What are Trusted Research Environments?
Trusted Research Environments (TRE) are secure computing environments that can hold sensitive biomedical data and allow researchers to access and analyze it remotely and safely.
Also known as Secure Research Environments, Secure Data Environments, or Data Clean Rooms, TREs gained initial popularity in Europe but are increasingly being adopted around the world as a secure way to share data. For organizations aiming to distribute genomic, clinical or real-world evidence datasets to internal or external teams, a TRE provides peace of mind that data sharing is controlled and compliant. Further, many TREs offer the added benefit of having data analysis tools included within the secure environment, eliminating the need for data to move outside of the confines of the environment.
Learn how the UK Biobank uses DNAnexus as a trusted research environment to enable population genomics at hyper scale
The Value of Trusted Research Environments
Data Security and Protection
TREs minimize data security risks as researchers no longer need to download datasets onto their computers.
TREs allow researchers to access the data remotely. This means that the data never leaves the secure environment of the TRE, and researchers can only access it with the proper authorization
Global Data Accessibility
Trusted Research Environments make data more easily accessible to researchers via cloud storage and cloud computing offerings.
In TREs, researchers can access the data safely from multiple locations without storing it locally and they have it readily available when needed.
Trusted Research Environments make it easier for researchers to collaborate, as they can access the same data in a secure environment.
In a TRE, researchers also have the ability to work collaborative with other organizations while keeping control of their own environments.
Example Use Cases for Trusted Research Environments
Establish Research Partnerships
TREs provide a secure, controlled environment for researchers to access and analyze sensitive data while providing enhanced collaboration to facilitate data exchange. These features make accessing and sharing data with your partner easier and safe.
Analyze Clinical Trial Results
Researchers need to access and analyze data from clinical trials to identify new drug targets, develop new drugs, and improve the safety and efficacy of existing drugs. A TRE allows life sciences companies to streamline data sharing across teams, while researchers can access the data securely and analyze it without compromising patient privacy
Public Health Research
Biobanks and Population Research Programs
Public Health Researchers use data to identify emerging health threats, track the spread of disease, and develop interventions to improve public health. With a TRE, they can do so securely, collaboratively, and in full compliance.
Adapt to Growing Data Availability
Access to large datasets is essential for effective and efficient research. TREs can integrate data from multiple sources, such as patient health records and genomic data to help identify biomarkers associated with the different diseases or conditions.
Collaborative Academic Research
Safely Access and Share Data with Others
Trusted Research Environments can be a valuable tool for collaboration and safe data sharing for organizations like academic medical centers, streamlining the ability for researchers from different disciplines and/or locations to work together on projects.
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The 5 Safes framework
The Five Safes framework is a set of guiding principles for Trusted Research Environments that enables data services to provide secure research access to data. The framework originated from the UK Office of National Statistics and was developed by them and other data providers in the 2010s. The framework has become best practice in data protection whilst fulfilling the demands of open science and transparency.
1 - Safe People
Only trained and accredited researchers can access the data
2 - Safe Projects
Data is only used for ethical, approved research with the potential for clear public benefit
3 - Safe Settings
Access to data is only possible using secure technology systems
4 - Safe Data
Researchers only use data that have been de-identified to protect privacy
5 - Safe Outputs
All research outputs are checked to ensure they cannot be used to identify subjects