National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C)

The N3C presents one of the most extensive assortments of safe and anonymized clinical data in the United States dedicated to COVID-19 research. N3C symbolizes a collective aspiration to transform real-world data into essential knowledge for tackling COVID-19 as the pandemic continues to develop.

Under the guidance of NCATS, over 75 institutions collaborated to create this comprehensive database. This vast, unified data repository enabled research groups to investigate COVID-19 and explore possible therapies as the pandemic progressed.

N3C Overview

The N3C represents a coalition of numerous entities collaborating to offer clinical data almost instantaneously, enhancing our comprehension of COVID-19 and potential therapeutic approaches.

Since its inception in September 2020, the N3C has granted access to its data to upwards of 3,000 scientists and medical professionals for studying COVID-19’s development, pinpointing risk and safeguarding factors, seeking effective treatments, comprehending the prolonged impacts of the illness, and figuring out the optimal care for those affected.

N3C collaborators comprise:

  • Health care providers that provide the data in the N3C, including NCATS Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program and the institutions supported by the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences’ Institutional Development Award Networks for Clinical and Translational Research (IDeA-CTR).
  • The National Center for Data to Health (CD2H), which guides and governs the collaborative science environment within the N3C.
  • NCATS, which provides governance, oversight and a secure research platform — the N3C Data Enclave — to maintain and protect the data.
  • The scientific community and research leaders with data science and clinical expertise who harmonize data so that it can be studied together and compared across the nation.

Enhancing Accessibility of COVID Data for Research

The N3C accumulates patient details from over 60 health care facilities nationwide. We standardize data from these entities into a unified format, making them accessible for analysis by researchers and clinicians within the N3C Data Enclave to examine COVID-19 and potential treatments during the pandemic’s evolution. The N3C Data Enclave is a safe, cloud-based research platform with a robust analytical toolset, acting as the custodian of N3C’s data. Data cannot be extracted from the N3C Data Enclave.

From the opening of the N3C Data Enclave to researchers in September 2020, investigators have utilized this data to enhance our knowledge of COVID-19 and health equity, diabetes, cancer, COVID-19 drugs, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Presently, research is being conducted on HIV and COVID-19 risk, mortality rates in rural areas, long COVID, and more using the N3C Data Enclave.

Data Security and Privacy

We acknowledge that the data we collect represent individuals and take our role as data custodian with utmost seriousness. We’ve adopted a thorough approach to ensure the security of the N3C Data Enclave and to safeguard patient privacy.

We adhere to all relevant policies and laws, have integrated essential privacy safeguards into the N3C Data Enclave and its governance structure, and continuously conduct security testing and monitoring within the N3C Data Enclave. Additionally, we mandate that researchers comply with a code of conduct, sign a contract with NCATS stipulating terms for data use, and undergo NIH IT security training.

The table below outlines N3C’s four main pillars of data protection, detailing the measures we employ to maintain data security and protect patient privacy.