Data Access Policy and Principles

The China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) is being conducted jointly by the Clinical Trial Service Unit (CTSU), Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS) in Beijing. The CKB Data Access and Sample Preservation Policy has been developed in concordance with the general principles of data sharing promoted by various research organisations in the UK, China and elsewhere and the Data Access Policy of the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford. It provides an overview of the CKB study and describes some constraints on certain resources. The policy sets out the core terms and conditions for data access; it describes its governance framework and outlines the procedures for its implementation.

The key elements include:

Data only shared with bona fide researchers

Requesters should be employees of a recognised academic institution, health service organisation or charitable research organisation with experience in medical research. Requestors should be able to demonstrate, through their peer reviewed publications in the area of interest, their ability to carry out the proposed study. Their organisation should have formal policies and procedures to comply with any legal, ethical or data protection constraints and to ensure that the dataset is stored securely and used responsibly.

Restricted access to samples

In CKB, only small volumes of depletable biological samples were collected, so access to them needs to be carefully controlled and coordinated. The Chinese Ministry of Health’s conditions on use of samples and the Chinese government’s requirement for DNA to remain in China provide further restrictions. Consideration will be given to collaborations that involve an extensive range of quality-controlled assays of all - or large numbers of – samples using high-throughput and cost-effective assay methods (eg, by low-cost genotyping of DNA samples, by NMR for multiple analytes, or by methods for multiple antibodies). Once generated, the data will also be made available to wider research community, after a period of exclusive use by collaborative groups. Please e-mail to discuss such proposals.

Collaborative working

The CKB research group will actively seek and respond to requests for scientific collaborations on specific projects, especially when framed in ways that will help strengthen Chinese research capacity. From time-to-time calls for specific project proposals or collaborations in areas of strategic importance and/or major scientific interest will be published. This model of facilitated collaboration with external researchers will be adopted where it can increase the value and quality of the data. Such collaboration will typically involve the adoption of new methods or assays and investigations into new health outcomes; they will be governed by a separate Collaboration Agreement.

Open Access to CKB resources

Before data is approved for open release the CKB team will first undertake required cleaning, processing, quality control, integration and imputation. Following this, a period of exclusive use for the CKB researchers and collaborators in China and the UK is anticipated. A further short period (eg 3-6 months) of prioritised access of other external researchers in China will take place before the datasets are made available worldwide. At this stage the presumption is that all reasonable requests for data from bona fide researchers will be granted. Details of the currently available data and a timeline for future dataset releases are available on the Data Overview page.

Independent Oversight of Access

An Independent Access Committee has been established to provide oversight and guidance on data access issues. The Committee will monitor the progress of all data requests. The Access Committee will also review any requests for access that raise particular issues (such as those relating to the use of samples). An additional Independent Data Access Oversight Committee within the Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Population Health provides governance advice on data sharing for CKB and other department-wide projects.

Protecting the Identity of Participants

Safeguards will be maintained to ensure the anonymity and confidentiality of participants’ data. Researchers will enter a legal agreement not to make any attempt to identify participants, and the data provided to researchers will not contain any personally identifiable variables (i.e. every data set provided will be “anonymised” with uniquely encrypted participant identifiers (PIDs).

Access Charge

Applicants outside of China and Hong Kong will be expected to pay for access to the resource. A fixed access charge of £2,500 GBP will be made to cover costs associated with the application process and the preparation of the dataset for each successful data request.

Publication and Return of Data

All users will be required to publish their findings and return their results and any derived variable data to CKB so that they enhance the resource for future health-related research in the public interest. In addition, all journal requirements for data release and deposition that are attached to publication will be complied with in full.

Ownership and Intellectual Property

CKB will remain the owner of the data and samples, but will have no financial claim over any ‘Arising Intellectual Property’ that is developed by researchers using the resource.

Data Access Agreements

Before any data is released a Data Access Agreement will have to be signed. For applications outside of China the agreements will be between the University of Oxford and the requestor’s institution. In China a similar contractual agreement will be made between the researcher and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. A Template Data Access Agreement is available here.

Click here to view the full text of the CKB Data Access and Sample Preservation Policy