Project Summary

Accelerating the pace of scientific discovery requires bringing together data from multiple disciplines, broadening engagement and increasing transparency. To help accelerate the progress in autism spectrum discords research the National Institutes of Health developed the National Database for Autism Research.

Project Team

Team Members
Michelle Freund, NIH
Daniel Hall, NIH
Greg Farber, NIH
Matthew McAuliffe, NIH

Project Details

Prompted by the need to accelerate progress in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) research, the National Institutes of Health developed the National Database for Autism Research (NDAR).

NDAR is a data repository and portal to many other research repositories. Using NDAR, a researcher can query data from multiple repositories at the same time. This allows for re-aggregation, re-use, re-analysis, and rigorous comparison of results. Currently, NDAR shares detailed clinical, genomic, imaging and other rich data from 17,000 research subjects. Data from another 45,000 subjects is expected. Compared to only 8% of data which is typically shared by any other major research communities, NDAR is poised to meet the Interagency Autism Strategic Plan goal of making 90% of all autism research data available. Fostering transparency, the NDAR website provides summary information about funded research to scientists and the general public. Pooling data across labs transforms research from a traditional, single-lab, single-project approach to a collaborative approach with unprecedented potential for discoveries.

The technology and policy regimes developed for NADR may be useful beyond the biomedicine and public health fields.  NDAR is a versatile platform that can replicated across many other areas of research. By re-using this technology, millions of dollars in acquisition or development costs could be saved. It is a model program supporting the needs of 21st century science.

Additional Information


HHS Innovates is one of the ways we are building an innovative culture at the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Innovates is a contest that recognizes and rewards action taken on good ideas. To date, HHS employees have submitted nominations of innovations for nearly 500 exciting new staff-driven innovative projects, and our employees have cast over 60,000 votes to select 42 finalists over seven rounds. This project is one of the finalists of HHS Innovates. Learn more about HHS Innovates.