NIH awards new contract to Palantir for COVID-19 data enclave


Written by Dave Nyczepir

The National Institutes of Health want Palantir to continue providing a secure, cloud-based data enclave for clinical research on COVID-19, with a greater focus on the long COVID, the company said on Monday.

The NIH National Center for the Advancement of Translational Sciences awarded Palantir a new open-ended delivery contract, raising the cap to $ 59.5 million over two years.

Palantir has been providing the data enclave for NCATS ‘National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C) since April 2020, and now one of the world’s largest collections of COVID-19 health records will be used to support the search for patients with long term effects.

“We are very excited to continue our work with NCATS and the research community to support this essential resource in the fight against COVID-19, as well as to study the length of COVID and potentially other diseases that pose major public health problems, ”Akash Jain said. , Palantir USG chairman, in the ad.

The N3C is made up of over 70 institutions and its data enclave now includes over 8 million records from 65 of them. Palantir’s software integrates siled data sources in a common environment, where the access of more than 1,000 internal and external researchers, who can form inter-institute research teams, is controlled.

NIH announced its $ 1.2 billion Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) initiative in February, and NCATS recently placed an initial order of $ 7.9 million for the first five months of its new contract with Palantir.

The company will integrate more data from patients who have attended long COVID clinics, which could help N3C researchers recruit them for studies. Palantir will also add data on viral sequencing that will help researchers understand how COVID-19 variants affect health outcomes as well as imagery and social determinants of health, according to someone familiar with the contract.

The influx of new data raises legal and ethical questions about whether certain datasets can and should be linked.

NCATS plans to use privacy-preserving record linkage (PPRL) to link enclave data with medical images, omics tools, electronic health records, and social determinants of health to help researchers answer questions about the long COVID. PPRL finds and links records for the same patient across independently managed data sources using a cryptographic hash value to protect their identity.

Datavant provides PPRL technology, while Regenstrief Group has agreed to act as an honest data broker for record matching. Researchers conducting studies report hashes of interest to the broker, who has the local institutions they originate from decrypts them in an attempt to ask them to participate. In this way, the identities of the patients remain with the only local institutions.

Palantir can help set up a committee governance process to link the records, the person familiar with the contract said.

The existing knowledge bank of definitions set by the N3C researchers will remain available to longtime COVID researchers, allowing them to build on this body of work and save time that could prove essential to saving more lives. .

NCATS also extended a separate contract with Palantir for accelerating software research with the National Cancer Institute and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Research. The one-year, $ 36 million contract was extended for one year for a total of $ 60 million.

The Department of Health and Human Services renewed and extended its contract with Palantir for the COVID-19 vaccine distribution platform, Tiberius, to $ 31 million in July. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention renewed a $ 7.4 million contract with the company to expand a non-COVID-19 disease surveillance solution, the data collection and integration environment for responding to public health events (DCIPHER), at one of its centers in June. .

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