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National Institutes of Health

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

2021 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
  • Biplav Khadka, BS, Software Developer
  • Nareg Bakirci, MS, Website Developer
  • Nicki Swan, BA, Graphic Designer
  • Raquel Gray, MBA, Team Lead
  • Rana Alneaimy, MD, Documentation Specialist
  • Rolanda Bailey, BS, Documentation Specialist
  • Tamara Prodanov, MD, Documentation Specialist
  • Kelly Colligan, BS, Information Specialist
  • Kami Emanuel, Information Specialist
  • Audrey Harrell, MS, Information Specialist
  • Vida Bayat Mokhtari, MD, Information Specialist
  • George Tran, Information Specialist

The Computer Support Services Core (CSSC) facility provides informatics and research services to intramural investigators of the Division of Intramural Research (DIR), NICHD, in the following key areas: core IT support, clinical informatics, custom software development for scientific and administrative support, and biological visualization services.

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 CSSC continued supporting reliable, secure, and efficient information technology solutions. This includes acquisition, maintenance, and support for licensed software used by the DIR community, e.g., GraphPad Prism, Amira, DNASTAR Lasergene, MathWorks MATLAB, SnapGene, PyMol, and FlowJo, as well as network services (e-mail, data backups, VPN, wireless configurations) and cross-platform desktop, server, and application hosting in the Rock Spring and Bldg. 35 Data Centers. We also assist users in identifying, researching, and purchasing custom hardware configurations to match their research instrument requirements.

Data-recovery services

The CSSC implemented core-data recovery tools for all media: hard drive, SSD, and flash etc., including RAID 0 and 5 recovery tools. Since 2005, the Core has recovered over five terabytes of research data from failed drives and media, saving many thousands of dollars in recovery costs.

Clinical informatics

The CSSC continued to support and develop applications related to clinical and translational medicine, including the Clinical Trials Database (CTDB) project. Such clinical informatics tools allow researchers to design, collect, and report clinical observations related to natural-history and interval-based studies. The total number of protocols and research projects supported by the CTDB team for 15 NIH Institutes increased to 697, including six COVID studies. The Global Question Library expanded to over 265,000 research questions. Our software development group completed two CTDB releases. Features included the addition of a new matrix question type, Patients Data Report, and the addition of audio function to questions. The CTDB releases also incorporated improvements to the functionality of the data-entry, samples, quality assurance, and e-binder modules. We supported the Clinical Trial Survey System (CTSS), an application for patient self-reporting, servicing 93 active protocols. The team completed one CTSS release and is working on finalizing a CTSS redesign. CTDB applications also support the NICHD Office of Clinical Director central biorepository, as well as several Institutes' research teams' CVs, trainings, and certificates documentation. In 2021, the CTDB project went through a third-party audit and was re-certified with the 21 CFR Part 11 compliance. Since its inception, data from CTDB supported over 1,500 NICHD publications.

The database development and reporting team continued integrations with other NIH Institutes. The team is in the process of building integrations with NHBLI and NIMH systems to incorporate data from these systems into the CTDB data-reporting environment. The team successfully upgraded the Cognos reporting environment to IBM Cognos 11.4. We continued supporting data marts, as new reporting requirements appear, and migrating data as needed. Additionally, the team worked closely with various principal investigators (PIs) across the Institutes to provide both management and research-related reports for clinical related studies, publishing over 664 reports in the past year. The team applies the latest patches to all production database environments to ensure continued uninterrupted services, and monitors the successful completion of backup and data-mart transformation services.

Custom software development for scientific and administrative support

The CSSC provides custom software development for the DIR's 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 DIRweb includes lab training web services for the NIH Enterprise Directory and Division of Occupational Health and Safety Training.

The team continued to release enhancements to the Fellows Annual Progress Report, a unified means for tracking and mentoring intramural trainees as well as for easing the re-appointment process. This solution provided the Office of Education with useful metrics regarding mentoring and training programs. We also updated the Exit Survey feature, a short survey allowing DIR Fellows a platform for providing feedback.

We continued developing new features and improvements for the Package Tracking module used by the DIR AMB, providing AMB staff real-time accuracy metrics for personnel and travel package compilation. The CSSC team continues to develop and support several feedback systems to support real-time customer satisfaction collection. These include surveys for the AMB, Office of the Clinical Director, laboratory administrative support staff, and NICHDs Administrative Services Branch. The system also offers more detailed feedback submissions periodically, along with comprehensive response metrics.

The team is also finalizing a new feature: the Capital Equipment/Expenditure Request Tracking System. The system will enable users to efficiently submit requests through the review process while allowing administrative staff to track requests through the workflow process.

The CSSC team continued to improve Cost Tracker, an application that permits capturing, organizing, and reporting 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, and website support. Those services were provided to the NICHD DIR Annual Report, the DIR Annual Fellows, the DIR Annual Scientific Retreats, the Anita B. Roberts Lecture Series, and the NICHD research labs and medical training programs. We supported the NICHD Office of Education by producing a monthly newsletter, the monthly SD Bulletin, and The NICHD Connection in collaboration with intramural fellows. We continued maintaining websites for the NICHD DIR Annual Report.

The CSSC continued to provide a platform for conducting scientific review by the Board of Scientific Counselors, administrative intranet support, and business operations.

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.


  • Richard Childs, MD, Clinical Director, NHLBI, Bethesda, MD
  • Maryland Pao, MD, Clinical Director, NIMH, Bethesda, MD
  • Forbes D. Porter, MD, PhD, Section on Molecular Dysmorphology, Clinical Director, NICHD, Bethesda, MD
  • Jack Yanovski, MD, PhD, Section on Growth and Obesity, NICHD, Bethesda, MD


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