Lockheed Martin expands its data security role within VA

Lockheed Martin is expanding its expanding its data security role in the Million Veteran Program as it helps build one of the world’s largest genomic databases.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is working with Lockheed Martin to boost the data security of the Million Veteran Program, a voluntary research effort aimed at learning how genetics affect health.

The MVP seeks to build one of the world’s largest medical databases by collecting blood and health information on 1 million veteran volunteers. The resulting database of genomic information can help researchers advance precision medicine. Currently, more than 450,000 veterans are in the program.

VA's Office of Research and Development will expand its work with Lockheed Martin under a new Cooperative Research & Development Agreement to secure genomic data storage and provide researchers across the VA, academia and other federal organizations with secure access to genomic and clinical data. Lockheed has been working with the VA on MVP security since the program’s inception in 2011.Dr. Michael Hultner, chief scientist in Lockheed’s Health and Life Sciences group, said the MVP has helped the company with its own cloud security research.

“The research we’re doing there with the VA is really an extension of the work we’re already doing on secure cloud computing,” Hultner told GCN. “We’re just evaluating it in the context of what the VA requirements are for putting personal heath identifiable information up in the cloud with the genomic data.”

The security solution Lockheed Martin has implemented for MVP uses role-based security, encryption, multifactor authentication and other measures to restrict access to the application data. Additionally, the general support system being used for the patient registries provides the framework for the applications which contain, process and transmit patient-provided data. That framework offers a common environment for security controls that can be inherited by multiple patient registries.

The MVP dovetails with President Barack Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, an approach that tailors treatment based on a person’s genetic makeup. Hultner praised the initiative as heralding the next generation of research.

“President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative is one of the first major national efforts to establish the infrastructure, rules and best practices for being able to bring together clinical digital healthcare data and biomedical data like DNA sequence information and then use that to do research at unprecedented scales -- millions of people with their full clinical and medical information,” he said.  

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