Curr Opin Neurol, Dec 2018

Neurotrauma as a big-data problem

Huie JR, Almeida CA, Ferguson AR



The field of neurotrauma research faces a reproducibility crisis. In response, research leaders in traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury (SCI) are leveraging data curation and analytics methods to encourage transparency, and improve the rigor and reproducibility. Here we review the current challenges and opportunities that come from efforts to transform neurotrauma's big data to knowledge.


Three parallel movements are driving data-driven-discovery in neurotrauma. First, large multicenter consortia are collecting large quantities of neurotrauma data, refining common data elements (CDEs) that can be used across studies. Investigators are now testing the validity of CDEs in diverse research settings. Second, data sharing initiatives are working to make neurotrauma data findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR). These efforts are reflected by recent open data repository projects for preclinical and clinical neurotrauma. Third, machine learning analytics are allowing researchers to uncover novel data-driven-hypotheses and test new therapeutics in multidimensional outcome space.


We are on the threshold of a new era in data collection, curation, and analysis. The next phase of big data in neurotrauma research will require responsible data stewardship, a culture of data-sharing, and the illumination of 'dark data'.


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