The Genomics Research and Innovation Network: creating an interoperable, federated, genomics learning system

Genetics in Medicine

September 4, 2019
Kenneth D. Mandl MD, MPH, Tracy Glauser MD, Ian D. Krantz MD, Paul Avillach MD, PhD, Anna Bartels MScPH, Alan H. Beggs PhD, Sawona Biswas MS, CGC, Florence T. Bourgeois MD, MPH, Jeremy Corsmo MPH, Andrew Dauber MD, MMSc, Batsal Devkota PhD, Gary R. Fleisher MD, Allison P. Heath PhD, Ingo Helbig MD, Joel N. Hirschhorn MD, PhD, Judson Kilbourn, Sek Won Kong MD, Susan Kornetsky MPH, Joseph A. Majzoub MD, Keith Marsolo PhD, Lisa J. Martin PhD, Jeremy Nix BS, Amy Schwarzhoff MS, MBA, Jason Stedman BA, Arnold Strauss MD, Kristen L. Sund PhD, MS, Deanne M. Taylor PhD, Peter S. White PhD & the Genomics Research and Innovation Network




Clinicians and researchers must contextualize a patient’s genetic variants against population-based references with detailed phenotyping. We sought to establish globally scalable technology, policy, and procedures for sharing biosamples and associated genomic and phenotypic data on broadly consented cohorts, across sites of care.


Three of the nation’s leading children’s hospitals launched the Genomic Research and Innovation Network (GRIN), with federated information technology infrastructure, harmonized biobanking protocols, and material transfer agreements. Pilot studies in epilepsy and short stature were completed to design and test the collaboration model.


Harmonized, broadly consented institutional review board (IRB) protocols were approved and used for biobank enrollment, creating ever-expanding, compatible biobanks. An open source federated query infrastructure was established over genotype-phenotype databases at the three hospitals. Investigators securely access the GRIN platform for prep to research queries, receiving aggregate counts of patients with particular phenotypes or genotypes in each biobank. With proper approvals, de-identified data is exported to a shared analytic workspace. Investigators at all sites enthusiastically collaborated on the pilot studies, resulting in multiple publications. Investigators have also begun to successfully utilize the infrastructure for grant applications.


The GRIN collaboration establishes the technology, policy, and procedures for a scalable genomic research network.