Soteria

Why UA Soteria?

Working with personally identifiable information (PII) has become commonplace for many disciplines. However, the regulations and compliance that exist to ensure the protection often create barriers that are challenging for highly collaborative, interdisciplinary projects that involve managing multiple data types. The UA Soteria environment is committed to providing a secure managed data and analysis enclave that is HIPAA compliant and easily accessible. 

Unified and  secure enclaves like UA Soteria have been established to accelerate research and collaboration, it takes inspiration from efforts such as the NIH  NC3 (National COVID Cohort Collaborative)(link is external) that allows healthcare providers, public health experts and epidemiologists to collaborate and draw conclusions at a speed previously inaccessible to researchers(link is external). With access to multiple sources of PII and PHI, University of Arizona researchers will be able to perform similarly groundbreaking research via UA Soteria.

About

With funding support from the University of Arizona Health Sciences 5.3 Strategic Initiatives plan, the University of Arizona Data Science Institute, University of Arizona Information Technology Services, Center for Biomedical Informatics and Biostatistics and CyVerse have joined forces to bring big data science techniques and capabilities to biomedical research in a project called UA Soteria. UA Soteria, named after the Greek goddess of safety, allows researchers to efficiently manage, analyze and collaborate with data sets requiring higher levels of compliance and security handling (PII/PHI/HIPAA content). Soteria complements the existing UArizona Controlled and Unclassified Information (CUI) Environment which provides NIST 800-171 compliance.

If you are interested in staying up to date with the progress of this project or want more information on how to be a part of the UA Soteria pilot launch, please fill out this Google form and read on. You can direct any questions to ua-soteria@list.arizona.edu

Soteria Infrastructure

The Soteria infrastructure is comprised of:

  1. Secure network perimeter, inside which key software services and systems are housed. Access to this perimeter is restricted to UArizona individuals that have met the compliance requirement (training etc.). Any services housed inside the Soteria perimeter are not visible or accessible from the public internet
  2. Soteria perimeter spans campus Research Data Center (RDC) and dedicated Virtual Private Cloud - (Amazon AWS.gov), allowing researchers to utilize commercial cloud and on campus resources
  3. Dedicated High Performance Computing (HPC) - resources with CPU and GPU for processing PHI/PII data workloads

Soteria Services

Initial services in Soteria will include:

1. RStudio Connect - a popular web-based platform for securely sharing a spectrum of data products, static or dynamic reports, dashboards developed in R and Python along with interactive web application and visualizations. (Service managed by UArizona Data Science Institute)

2. CyVerse Health - a popular web workbench for data science teams to securely collaborate, customize and share reproducible workflows and data using advanced containerization technologies Docker and Kubernetes. (Service managed by UArizona CyVerse)

3. XNAT - open source imaging informatics platform that facilitates common management, productivity, and quality assurance tasks for medical imaging associated data.

4. REDCap - popular Electronic Data Capture (EDC) platform. (Service managed by UArizona Center for Biomedical Informatics and Biostatistics)

5. Atlas - web-based tool developed by the OHDSI community that facilitates the design and execution of analyses on standardized, patient-level, observational data in the CDM format. (Service managed by UArizona Center for Biomedical Informatics and Biostatistics)

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In Greek mythology, Soteria was the goddess or spirit of safety and salvation, deliverance, and preservation from harm

Yes, UA Soteria is in compliance with the most recent NIH guidelines, including for genomic data.

Yes, UA Soteria has a dedicated HPC cluster exclusive to its users with the same compliance standards.

UA Soteria has R Studio Connect capabilities which allow for publishing and distribution of fully de-identified data and results.

Yes. UA Soteria uses CyVerse Health and RStudio Connect which have Jupyter notebooks, R Markdown, R Shiny, AWS capabilities and more.

No, you won’t need to know any software engineering, only the technical knowledge required to run the programs you already use. Our programmers, engineers and IT managers will handle the rest.

So long as your collaborator has a UA Net ID or the ability to get one they will be able to access UA Soteria with approval.

You can work with the CB2 honest brokering service to completely de-identify your data for public storage or publishing. We hope to work with the Libraries’ ReDATA project to curate a collection of de-identified healthcare datasets as the project progresses.

Yes, but you will not be able to export code to GitHub, given the sensitive nature of information stored in the environment.

UAHS RIA, IRB, and HIPAA offices are all aware of and in communication with UA Soteria operations. While both RIA and IRB have recently undergone significant changes, these new operating systems will lend themselves well to the cloud-based nature of UA Soteria and work to get you, the researcher, doing your important work faster.