Genomic and Health Data Security and Privacy

Advances in genomic research and the transition to electronic medical records have greatly expanded health care, but the portability of those records has created a slew of privacy questions and challenges. The study of genomic and health data security and privacy aims to develop the methods and protocols for the protection or limited sharing of sensitive personal information while also addressing the ethical questions inherent in personal medical data.

Since 2008, XiaoFeng Wang has been actively working on health informatics security, particularly privacy issues in human genome study (HGS), a timely and critical area, as indicated by the recent report from Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. Since 2014, the team has been working with the NIH to organize genomic privacy competitions, with the purpose to bridge the gap between the biomedical, genomic community with the mainstream privacy research. Our competitions have been reported by GenomeWeb and webcasted to the NIH NHGRI.  

Raquel Hill’s research area is data protection; including designing, developing, and evaluating mechanisms for securing access and preserving privacy of sensitive data. High-dimensional datasets often include some combination of demographic, medical, and other personal information, which presents opportunities to characterize participants in unique ways. Sharing this data with third parties makes identifying information more widely available which limits the effectiveness of current data security and privacy mechanisms.