Latest news: 21 September 2017.

The Sax Institute’s Secure Unified Research Environment (SURE) will continue to form a critical part of Australia’s national data linkage infrastructure, enabling researchers to undertake research using linked datasets, after it was granted new funding for the upcoming year.

SURE, a purpose-built remote-access data research laboratory for analysing routinely collected data, was established by the Sax Institute with funding from the Australian Government National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), as part of the Population Health Research Network (PHRN).

PHRN CEO Dr Merran Smith recently announced that SURE would receive funding of $860,000 in 2017-18 under NCRIS, to ensure it remained a “vital link in our safe data chain”.

“We are delighted to confirm the extension of our arrangement with the Sax Institute for continued provision of the SURE service in 2017-18,” she said. “Commonwealth, state and territory data custodians are confident that their data will be securely managed in the SURE facility.”

Once the data custodians provided linkable data to SURE, researchers could access it securely from anywhere in Australia, she said.

“This helps to ensure that vital health and medical research using linked population data can be safely undertaken,” Dr Smith said. “Researchers have recently completed an important project on outcomes of childhood immunisation. The project would not have been possible without the SURE facility.”

A vote of confidence

SURE


The Sax Institute SURE team, with Head of Research Assets, Dr Martin McNamara (centre).

There are now 13 different data custodian organisations from around Australia uploading data to SURE, and 180 researchers actively using the facility for their work, with 72 active studies underway.

Sax Institute Head of Research Assets Dr Martin McNamara said the funding was a vote of confidence in the value of SURE, and would allow the facility to continue to provide researchers with services at a subsidised rate, while development of the facility’s functionality continued.

“This funding is a vote of confidence in SURE, which will continue to be an important piece of the nation’s research infrastructure, enabling researchers across Australia access to linked data,” he said.

Dr McNamara said use of SURE had expanded beyond the health and human services sector to include data custodians in other sectors, and there was now strong usage among researchers across the country.

A recent user survey also showed that the facility is allowing many researchers to undertake research using linked datasets for the first time, he said.

SURE was established and is operated with funding from the Australian Government National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) as part of the Population Health Research Network (PHRN). The PHRN is a collaboration that was set up in 2009 to further develop Australia’s data linkage capabilities.

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