Johns Hopkins awarded NIH Maternal Health Research Data Innovation and Coordination Hub

Opportunity to harmonize patient data and establish a clinical registry.

The National Institutes of Health awarded $24 million in first-year funding to establish Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence. Part of NIH’s Implementing a Maternal Health and Pregnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone (IMPROVE) initiative, the goal is for these centers to develop and evaluate innovative approaches to reduce pregnancy-related complications and deaths and promote maternal health equity. The grants are expected to last seven years and total an estimated $168 million. Johns Hopkins was named the data innovation and coordinating hub. 

Compared to other high-income countries, the United States has a high rate of maternal deaths. Each year tens of thousands of Americans experience severe pregnancy-related complications, raising the risk of future health concerns such as high blood pressure, diabetes and mental health conditions. These complications often also lead to adverse neonatal outcomes. 

Johns Hopkins OHDSI Research faculty will act as the data core working with each of the centers around standardizing clinical data collection using EHR automation with the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) Common Data Model (CDM). “The OMOP common data model enables us to harmonize data from different EHR vendors and conduct large scale observational research” says Paul Nagy, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of Education, BIDS Graduate Training Programs.  

This forward-looking grant helps bring together data on these common complicating conditions across the 10 research centers and will build a community of scientists to study the data and look for insights. 

This grant also represents a teaching setting for Bioinformatics and Data Science (BIDS) students. “Our BIDS students will have a fantastic opportunity to be exposed to large data sets as we teach them how to use observational health data,” says Khyzer Aziz, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Director of the Master of Science in Applied Health Sciences Informatics programs in BIDS. “We are enhancing our students’ opportunities for interaction with multiple institutions, setting them up for their post-graduate careers.”

Johns Hopkins data scientists will not just be helping these centers collect and validate their data; they will also help train the scientists on large-scale observational research using OHDSI methods and analytics. It is important to note that this grant is co-led by the School of Medicine (Paul Nagy, PhD) and the School of Public Health (Andreea Creanga, MD, PhD), so this work is not occurring in a silo.

Drs. Nagy, Aziz, Creanga, and other colleagues intend to improve data coordination for better communication among the research centers and grantees of the IMPROVE initiative by creating tools and workflows for consistent data collection, analysis, and sharing. 

Visit the NIH for more information on the Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence.

NIH Maternal Grant Awardees