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National Institutes of Health

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

2018 Annual Report of the Division of Intramural Research

Research Informatics Support for NICHD's Division of Intramural Research

Ryan Dale
  • Ryan Dale, PhD, Scientific Information Officer
  • Marco Crosby, Program Engineer
  • Michelle Duverneau, IT Specialist
  • John Czapary, BS, Laboratory Technical Manager
  • Patrica Pullen, MBA, Project Manager
  • Sean Ivusic, MS, Database Support Lead
  • Asma Idriss, PMP, MS, Program Manager
  • Kesa Koresko, MS, Senior DB/BI Specialist
  • Loc Vu, BS, Lead Software Engineer
  • Matt Breymaier, BS, Senior Bio/Application Software Engineer
  • Nareg Bakirci, MS, Website Developer
  • Jeremy Swan, BA, Senior Biovisualization Specialist
  • Nicki Swan, BA, Graphic Designer
  • Raquel Gray, MBA, Team Lead
  • Tamara Prodanov, MD, Documentation Specialist
  • Audrey Harrell, MS, Information Specialist
  • George Tran, Information Specialist
  • Rolanda Bailey, BS, Documentation Specialist
  • Vida Bayat Mokhtari, MD, Information Specialist
  • Kami Emanuel, Information Specialist
  • Joo Kang, BS, Information Specialist
  • Joelle Khoriaty, MBA, Documentation Specialist
  • Orlando Ortega, MS, Documentation Specialist

The Computer Support Services Core (CSSC) Facility provides informatics and research services to intramural investigators at NICHD in five key areas: core IT support, clinical informatics, custom software development for scientific and administrative support, biological visualization services, and bioinformatics.

During 2018, the team migrated its applications and database to new hardware, leading to an increase in storage capacity and computing resources.

Core IT Services

The CSSC continued to expand its services to the DIR community in the following core IT areas:

Network and desktop services

During the past year, the Core supported reliable, secure, and efficient information technology solutions. These include acquisition, maintenance, and support for licensed software used by our DIR research community; e.g., EndNote/Reference Manager, Bookends, GraphPad Prism, PyMol, network services (e-mail, data backups, VPN, helix, PDAs, wireless configurations) and crossplatform desktop, server, and application hosting in the Rock Spring and Bldg. 35 Data Centers. We host software licenses for computation, 3D imaging, and sequencing; e.g., Amira, ArrayStar and QSeq, Autodesk Maya, DNASTAR Lasergene Core Suite, MathWorks MATLAB, MolSoft, and SeqMan NGen. Hosting these licenses permits users to leverage their research with additional tools available on Helix and Biowulf. We also assist users in identifying, researching, and purchasing custom hardware configurations to match research instrument requirements.

Data-recovery services

CSSC implemented core data-recovery tools for all media, hard drive, solid state drive (SSD), and flash, etc., including RAID 0 and 5 recovery tools. Since 2005, the Core has recovered over a terabyte of research data from failed drives and media, at a minimum of $2,500 savings per instance to the DIR research budget.

Clinical Informatics

The CSSC continued to expand, support and develop the Clinical Trials Database (CTDB) application and its auxiliary tools. CTDB allows researchers to custom design, collect, and report clinical data related to natural history and interval-based studies. The total number of protocols and research projects supported by the CTDB team increased to approximately 570 for 15 NIH institutes, with an expansion of research questions to over 225,000. The CTDB clinical research team also provide data management support to Principal Investigators (PIs) of the NICHD's Division of Intramural Research (DIR).

Our software development group completed one release that included features for electronic data upload and performance improvements of a QA module. Our database development and reporting team continued to migrate protocol data from various NIH institutes, while supplying reporting for protocols within CTDB. New datamart and reporting functionality added to the CTDB datamart allows users to combine and retrieve additional information and data related to their research. While already providing encryption-at-rest, the CTDB project interface to NIH's Biomedical Translational Research Information System (BTRIS) was upgraded to ensure that encryption-on-the-wire security policies were followed. We also supported the Clinical Trial Survey System (CTSS), an application for patient surveys, used for 165 active protocols.

Custom Software Development for Scientific and Administrative Support

The CSSC provides custom software development for the DIR scientific and administrative community.

We continued to enhance the Manuscript Tracking System (MTrac), a web-based application that automates the clearance and approval process for manuscripts in the DIR.

The DIRweb application supports several activities: the NICHD annual report, PI and Fellows retreats, Training tracking, Fellows progress report, and Administrative Management Branch (AMB) personnel and travel package tracking.

The team continued to release enhancements to the Fellows Annual Progress Report (APR); a unified means for tracking and mentoring intramural trainees along with easing the re-appointment process. Success with the Fellows APR has garnered interest from various other institutes, and plans to implement a scalable and cost-effective inter-institute service are under way. This solution provided the Office of Education with useful metrics regarding mentoring and training programs. An Exit Survey feature was also added for DIR Fellows: a short survey allowing DIR trainees a platform for providing feedback.

We developed a new Package Tracking module for the DIR AMB, granting AMB staff real-time accuracy metrics for personnel and travel package compilation.

The CSSC team continued working on Cost Tracker, an application that permits capturing, organizing, and reporting of various expenses on a per-protocol basis. The work is done closely with the Office of the Clinical Director to improve protocol cost vs. effectiveness and a protocol-cost estimator module.

Biological visualization services

The CSSC team provided DIR laboratories with scientific communications and media services, including publication support, website support, audio/visual production, and print media.

Those services were provided to: The NICHD Annual Report, the DIR Annual Fellows and Scientific Retreats, the NIH Research Festival, the NICHD Exchange lecture series, and NICHD research labs and medical training programs, including the Pediatric Endocrinology Training Program and Inter-Institute Adult Endocrinology training program. Support services included recording audio and video of presenters, producing video abstracts to accompany publications, and offering professional photography. Moreover, the team produced several scientific figures in support of publications.

We supported the NICHD Office of Education by producing a monthly newsletter, The NICHD Connection, in collaboration with Intramural Fellows. We created print collateral for conferences including the NICHD Scientific Retreat, NICHD Fellows Retreat, and the MEN-1 symposium, as well as recruitment materials for NICHDs clinical training programs. We continued to facilitate the use of new technologies through demos, we helped coordinate several Virtual Reality demonstrations at the Intramural Research Festival, and we provided co-leadership of the Virtual and Augmented Reality Interest Group.

We also support an intranet for knowledge management, collaboration within the DIR and with other NIH labs, the sharing of lab protocols and scientific data, and the recruitment of fellows. The CSSC continued to provide a platform for conducting scientific review by the Board of Scientific Counselors, administrative intranet support and business operations, in addition to public-facing laboratory websites through a Confluence wiki known as Science NICHD (

Additional Funding

  • The Clinical Trials Database (CTDB) project receives funding from other NIH Intramural Institute or Center programs, including NINR, NIMH, NIDCR, NIEHS, NIAMS, NINDS, CC, NHLBI, NIDCD, NHGRI, NCCIH, NIMHD, and NIDDK.


  1. Hodes A, Lodish MB, Tirosh A, Meyer J, Belyavskaya E, Lyssikatos C, Rosenberg K, Demidowich A, Swan J, Jonas N, Stratakis CA, Zilbermint M. Hair cortisol in the evaluation of Cushing syndrome. Endocrine 2017;56:164-174.
  2. Trivellin G, Hernández-Ramírez LC, Swan J, Stratakis CA. An orphan G-protein-coupled receptor causes human gigantism and/or acromegaly: Molecular biology and clinical correlations. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab 32 2018;125-140.


  • Karel Pacak, MD, PhD, DSc, Section on Medical Neuroendocrinology, NICHD, Bethesda, MD
  • Forbes D. Porter, MD, PhD, Section on Molecular Dysmorphology, NICHD, Bethesda, MD
  • Peter Schmidt, MD, Behavioral Endocrinology Branch, NIMH, Bethesda, MD
  • Steven Stanhope, PhD, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
  • Constantine Stratakis, MD, D(med)Sci, Section on Endocrinology and Genetics, NICHD, Bethesda, MD
  • Jack Yanovski, MD, PhD, Section on Growth and Obesity, NICHD, Bethesda, MD


For more information, email

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