Barney McManigal, Head of Advocacy and Communications, WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network

Looking forward to the day when all infectious disease data is collected and stored in a common format, data managers from the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory (IDDO) said their recent CDISC training has encouraged them to move ahead with plans for a more integrated approach. IDDO, an interdisciplinary team that produces wide-ranging research outputs relating to malaria, Ebola, visceral leishmaniasis and other diseases, is now accepting data in CDISC format and is in the process of applying CDISC to its data repository.

The October training at IDDO’s Oxford, UK, headquarters included several days of facilitation, including an introduction to CDISC standards such as Clinical Data Acquisition Standards Harmonization (CDASH), Study Data Tabulation Model (SDTM) and Operational Data Model (ODM).

“It would be great if everyone used CDISC as a standard data collection method,” said Kalynn Kennon, an IDDO data manager, who helps the organisation collect and curate clinical data for a range of uses, including meta-analyses relating to therapeutic dosing and efficacy. “It would be perfect because everyone could understand each other’s data since everyone would be using the same method to collect and store it.”

Earlier this year, IDDO’s WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) joined with CDISC to launch the first global malaria data standard, the CDISC Malaria Therapeutic Area User Guide (TAUG). In addition to using the malaria TAUG, IDDO is beginning to apply CDISC to its Ebola data.

Receiving data in a common format reduces the time needed to standardise information received. It also allows researchers to collect data on certain variables across multiple diseases, and compare them.

“People don’t just present with one disease,” Kennon said. “You have got people who come in with HIV but might also have malaria. In real life you could have multiple infections. CDISC will streamline the whole process and make it so much easier to understand, share and use data across different diseases and research areas.”

Kennon said CDISC could have a significant effect on IDDO work outputs, which to date include 18 large-scale meta-analyses of malaria with about 280 collaborators. She looks forward to what might be possible if teams apply CDISC standards to data collection.

“If everyone uses CDISC data, pooling the information for these large analyses can happen much more quickly,” Kennon said.

CDISC's Shannon Labout leading class at WWARN