About: Overview

The Biomedical Informatics Research Network (BIRN) is a national initiative to advance biomedical research through data sharing and online collaboration. Funded by the National Institute of General Medicine Sciences (NIGMS), a component of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), BIRN provides data-sharing infrastructure, software tools, strategies and advisory services – all from a single source.

Our work focuses directly on the biomedical research community’s unique, data-intensive sharing and analysis needs, which are particularly evident in fields such as biomedical imaging and genetics.

BIRN provides a user-driven, software-based framework for research teams to share significant quantities of data – rapidly, securely and privately – across geographic distance and/or incompatible computing systems. Groups may choose whether to share data internally or with external audiences. In either scenario, hardware and data remain under the control of individual user groups.

We also offer data-sharing software tools specific to biomedical research, best practices references, expert advice and other resources. BIRN actively is developing new data-sharing tools, authorization capabilities, and knowledge engineering tools to help researchers make sense of new information in unique ways.


BIRN is a collaborative effort between the NIGMS and a leadership consortium that includes the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI), University of Chicago, Massachusetts General Hospital, University of California at Irvine, and University of California at Los Angeles. Our interdisciplinary team consists of leading computer scientists, engineers, physicians, biomedical researchers and other experts.

Participants represent some of the nation’s premier technical and healthcare research universities, hospitals and other institutions. Such groups range from small research groups who receive NIGMS grants to large consortia.

BIRN is supported by NIH grants 1U24-RR025736, U24-RR021992, U24-RR021760 and by the Collaborative Tools Support Network Award 1U24-RR026057-01.