From fragmentation to integration: EOSC-ENTRUST launches to unite European TREs

On 1 March 2024, the EU-funded EOSC-ENTRUST project launched to enhance European interoperability for sensitive data access and analysis. Led by ELIXIR and the EUDAT Collaborative Data Infrastructure (CDI), this collaborative effort involves partners from 15 European countries, including ELIXIR-UK members such as University of Dundee, University of Manchester, University of Nottingham and Health Data Research UK (HDR UK). With EU funding amounting to €4.2 million, EOSC-ENTRUST aims to address critical challenges over a three-year period.

At its core, EOSC-ENTRUST seeks to establish a European network of Trusted Research Environments (TREs) for sensitive data and develop a common blueprint for federated data access and analysis. These TREs provide secure platforms for handling sensitive datasets, enabling data privacy and legal compliance in research involving confidential information. 

Europe’s landscape of TREs is fragmented, presenting challenges in access and management for researchers and providers. The project aims to harmonise various systems and procedures for a unified approach to managing federated access across differing technologies and governance frameworks.

Leveraging the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Interoperability Framework, the project will address legal, technical and semantic interoperability challenges to enable seamless collaboration across disciplinary boundaries. 

Key initiatives by the UK Node

Delivering the blueprint for connecting TREs and use cases

HDR UK will share knowledge of its well-established principles implemented by UK TREs and bring expertise in the building of consensus standards for multiple TREs. It will demonstrate the feasibility of data-enabled clinical trials and predictive models, supporting systematic/scoping reviews and the development of policy measures by combining different data types.

In this effort, the Health Informatics Centre at the University of Dundee also brings knowledge and technology for producing a TRE for over 12 years, supporting thousands of projects providing access to NHS Scotland data. 

Demonstrating federated analytics across TREs

Researchers seeking to perform analysis across TREs face a frustrating approach, with competing standards, competing data curation requests and very manual and slow methods. ELIXIR has the technology to wrap workflows with RO-Crate. The University of Nottingham partners will co-lead, with the involvement of the University of Manchester, the work to demonstrate that existing federated analytics tools can be packaged within the Five Safes RO-Crate profile.

Ensuring adoption, longevity and scalability

Beyond technical advancements, EOSC-ENTRUST will engage in targeted outreach efforts to expand the provider network and develop policy recommendations, ensuring adoption, longevity and scalability. 

In this crucial element, HDR UK partners are co-leading in the policy and dissemination activities, with the involvement of University of Dundee partners in establishing a TRE Provider forum for sharing know-how. 

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