The Medical Science DMZ

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Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Medical Informatics Association


The exponentially increasing amounts of “omics” data, the rapid increase of high-quality imaging, and other rapidly growing clinical data sets have resulted in the rise of biomedical research “big data.” The storage, analysis, and network resources required to process these data and integrate them into patient diagnoses and treatments have grown to scales that strain the capabilities of academic health centers. Some data are not generated locally and cannot be sustained locally, and shared data repositories such as those provided by the National Library of Medicine, the National Cancer Institute, and international partners such as the European Bioinformatics Institute are rapidly growing. The ability to store and compute using these data must therefore be addressed by a combination of local, national, and industry resources that exchange large data sets. Maintaining data-intensive flows that comply with HIPAA and other regulations presents a new challenge for biomedical research. Recognizing this, we describe a strategy that marries performance and security by borrowing from and redefining the concept of a “Science DMZ”—a framework that is used in physical sciences and engineering research to manage high-capacity data flows.



computer network, data intensive science, high performance computing, biomedical research, computer security, health insurance portability and accountability act, hipaa


Peisert S, Barnett W, Dart E, et al. The Medical Science DMZ. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 2016;23:1199–201. doi:10.1093/jamia/ocw032

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