MMCRI joins the national COVID data research collective

Contact person: Caroline Cornish
207-662-5146 / [email protected]

PORTLAND, Maine – The Maine Medical Center Research Institute (MMCRI) has received a $203,000 subgrant from West Virginia University for a National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) initiative to to create a centralized national data platform that scientists can use to study COVID -19 and identify potential treatments.

The National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C) is a partnership of more than 35 National Institutes of Health-funded institutions, including Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program Hubs, Clinical and Translational Research (CTR) Program Networks and the National Center for Data to Health (CD2H), under the overall direction of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Collaborators will contribute and use clinical data on COVID-19 to answer critical research questions to address the pandemic.

Participating healthcare organizations send anonymized clinical, laboratory and diagnostic data from patients tested for COVID-19. The N3C platform aggregates information in a standard format, making it available to scientists and researchers studying how to improve clinical care for the disease.

“The N3C platform allows researchers to access large amounts of data without healthcare institutions having to share personally identifiable information about their patients,” said Susan Santangelo, Sc.D., Principal Investigator. from the site for N3C to the MMCRI. “This collaboration can help us save lives.”

N3C allows scientists to access three levels of data to analyze:

  • The synthetic dataset is an artificial, statistically comparable computer derivative of the original data that does not contain individually identifiable health information.
  • The anonymized dataset includes data about patients whose personal health information has been removed.
  • The limited data set includes service dates and patient postcodes.

Investigators need special permission from the institutional review board designated to oversee the N3C project with a well-documented scientific reason in order to view the limited dataset.

MMCRI is able to participate in N3C because Dr. Santangelo used funding made available by MMCRI’s Northern New England Clinical and Translational Research Network (NNE-CTR) to bring the common data model Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) at MaineHealth. The NNE-CTR is an NIH-funded program to build clinical research infrastructure in northern New England.
The OMOP Research Data Warehouse translated MaineHealth patient electronic medical record information into two HIPAA-compliant datasets. One contains no personally identifiable information while the other contains a limited amount of personally identifiable data. OMOP datasets are regularly updated and transferred to N3C.

The OMOP Research Data Warehouse has only existed at MaineHealth since early 2020. The hope is that it will be used by MaineHealth researchers studying many different conditions.

The research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number U54GM104942. The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


About Maine Medical Center
Maine Medical Center (MMC), recognized as Best Regional Hospital by US News and World Report for 2020-2021, is a comprehensive healthcare resource for residents of Greater Portland and statewide, as well as northern New England. Incorporated in 1868, MMC is the largest medical center in the state, licensed for 637 beds and employing over 9,600 people. MMC’s unique role as a community hospital and referral center requires an unparalleled depth and breadth of services, including an active educational program and a world-class biomedical research facility. As a nonprofit institution, Maine Medical Center provides nearly 23% of all charitable care provided in Maine. MMC is part of the MaineHealth system, a growing family of healthcare services in northern New England. For more information, visit

Sean N. Ayres