CSC: New project creates secure research environments for the EU

17 Jun 2024 | Network Updates | Update from CSC – IT CENTER FOR SCIENCE
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Increasing information security threats and more detailed European and national regulation increase the need for secure research environments. The current European environment is fragmented, which is reflected in the lack of interoperability of systems and methods and poses challenges in access to and management of services.

EOSC-ENTRUST will build a European network of Trusted Research Environments (TREs) for sensitive data and develop a common blueprint, or reference architecture, for federated data access and analysis. The Horizon Europe-funded project is built on two major data centric infrastructures. One of the research data infrastructures focuses on supporting the utilization of data masses in biomedical research and is managed by ELIXIR, which is a multinational organization operating in networks. One of the research data infrastructures is EUDAT and it offers solutions for general research data management.

“We are delighted to launch the EOSC-ENTRUST project and look forward to working with Europe’s TRE providers and wider sensitive data community to produce an interoperability blueprint to enable biomolecular and biomedical research involving sensitive data,” said Peter Maccallum, ELIXIR’s Chief Technical Officer and Coordinator of EOSC-ENTRUST.

The project brings together service providers of existing European secure research environments and research organizations utilizing their services. The project will create a common legal, organizational, technical, and semantic framework for services, based on the interoperability principles of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

“EOSC-ENTRUST brings together two major data centric infrastructures, EUDAT and ELIXIR. With our experience and international networks, we will address the growing multidisciplinary demand for secure digital environments by orchestrating European-wide coordination and interfaces with other EU organizations and initiatives like EOSC and the European Data Spaces,” said Yann Le Franc, Head of the EUDAT Secretariat.

Targeted outreach activities will expand the provider network and develop policy papers and guidelines to create a long-term operational TRE framework within EOSC.

Three partners from Finland

In Finland, the project partners are CSC – IT Center for Science, Turku University of Applied Sciences and The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The CSC leads work packages to coordinate the production of a reference architecture and the establishment of a network of producers of secure research environments. The CSC also represents EUDAT as a member of the service provider network.

“CSC has many years of experience in providing secure processing environments for Finnish researchers. With the EOSC-ENTRUST project, we are strengthening the operating conditions of European environments and ensuring that Finnish researchers can continue to access national and European research data in the future. EOSC-ENTRUST is also an excellent example of how CSC promotes national objectives in Europe together with its Finnish partners”, said Ilkka Lappalainen, CSC’s Director of Sensitive Research Data Services.

The Health Technology Research Group at Turku University of Applied Sciences identifies requirements for the development of the blueprint. The research group also participates in the evaluation and refinement of the blueprint.

“Our responsibilities in this project include managing the collection of requirements from research data produced by companies, providing test data and formulating research questions for data analysis,” said Elina Kontio, Research Manager of the Health Technology Research Group at Turku University of Applied Sciences.

The National Institute for Health and Welfare brings the views of the supplier and user of sensitive data and its technical and semantic expertise to the project.

“Connecting EHDS and EOSC environments is the future goal of the European data strategy. The study of possibilities and requirements has already begun in other projects in which THL is currently involved. Our work as part of the EOSC-ENTRUST consortium will create concrete proposals on how to move towards infrastructures that support multidisciplinary health data research,” said Persephone Doupi, Chief Physician at THL.

The EU-funded EOSC-ENTRUST project aims to improve European interoperability in access to and analysis of sensitive research data. The three-year project has partners from 15 European countries and is led by the research data infrastructures ELIXIR and EUDAT.

This article was first published on 7 June by CSC – IT Center for Science.

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