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Lessons learnt (so far) in building a human genomics data commons

Dr Jeff Christiansen (Deputy Director, Australian BioCommons)

Assoc Prof Bernie Pope (Associate Director: Human Genome Informatics, Australian BioCommons)

At the Australian BioCommons we aim to identify and adopt leading technology to maximise benefit from human genomics and related data in Australia. We are doing this by 1) removing barriers between researchers, data and analysis resources; 2) facilitating data sharing across data holdings for greater scale and analytical power; 3) connecting and harmonising national and international research efforts; and 4) ensuring data is appropriately accessed within ethical, legal and privacy standards. A key foundation of this is the establishment of federated data commons that “collocate data, storage, and computing infrastructure with core services and commonly used tools and applications for managing, analyzing, and sharing data” (Grossman et al, Comput. Sci. Eng, 2016). In this presentation we will discuss the lessons we have learnt so far in establishing a human genomics data commons for Australian coronary artery disease cohorts. We will talk about specific technology choices that have been made, challenges faced and effort and skills required. We anticipate that many more data commons of a similar nature will be established nationally, across many disciplines, including stem cell research. This presents a scaling challenge that we hope can be addressed through the adoption of interoperable standards and reusable components, so that the lessons learnt in one context can be applied in many others. 

Grossman, R. L., Heath, A., Murphy, M., Patterson, M. & Wells, W. A case for data commons: toward data science as a service. Comput. Sci. Eng. 18, 10–20 (2016).

When: Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 12-1 PM (ACST)

Where: Online. Please RSVP to

Dr Jeff Christiansen is Deputy Director of the Australian BioCommons and Associate Director of Engagements and Operations. Assoc Prof Bernie Pope is Associate Director of Human Genomic Informatics at the Australian BioCommons and is a Victorian Health and Medical Research Fellow at Melbourne Bioinformatics.

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