The availability of high-throughput molecular profiling techniques has provided more accurate and informative data for regular clinical studies. Nevertheless, complex computational workflows are required to interpret these data. Over the past years, the data volume has been growing explosively, requiring robust human data management to organise and integrate the data efficiently. For this reason, we set up an ELIXIR implementation study, together with the Translational research IT (TraIT) programme, to design a data ecosystem that is able to link raw and interpreted data. In this project, the data from the TraIT Cell Line Use Case (TraIT-CLUC) are used as a test case for this system. Within this ecosystem, we use the European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA) to store raw molecular profiling data; tranSMART to collect interpreted molecular profiling data and clinical data for corresponding samples; and Galaxy to store, run and manage the computational workflows. We can integrate these data by linking their repositories systematically. To showcase our design, we have structured the TraIT-CLUC data, which contain a variety of molecular profiling data types, for storage in both tranSMART and EGA. The metadata provided allows referencing between tranSMART and EGA, fulfilling the cycle of data submission and discovery; we have also designed a data flow from EGA to Galaxy, enabling reanalysis of the raw data in Galaxy. In this way, users can select patient cohorts in tranSMART, trace them back to the raw data and perform (re)analysis in Galaxy. Our conclusion is that the majority of metadata does not necessarily need to be stored (redundantly) in both databases, but that instead FAIR persistent identifiers should be available for well-defined data ontology levels: study, data access committee, physical sample, data sample and raw data file. This approach will pave the way for the stable linkage and reuse of data.
Thanks to the collective efforts made by all the coauthors, this article finally got published in F1000Research on October 24th, 2017. You may find some introductory information about this topic in an F1000 blog post I published on September 19th, 2017.