Data harmonization and federated learning for multi-cohort dementia research using the OMOP common data model: A Netherlands consortium of dementia cohorts case study

Pedro Mateus*, Justine Moonen, Magdalena Beran, Eva Jaarsma, Sophie M. van der Landen, Joost Heuvelink, Mahlet Birhanu, Alexander G.J. Harms, Esther Bron, Frank J. Wolters, Davy Cats, Hailiang Mei, Julie Oomens, Willemijn Jansen, Miranda T. Schram, Andre Dekker, Inigo Bermejo

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Background: Establishing collaborations between cohort studies has been fundamental for progress in health research. However, such collaborations are hampered by heterogeneous data representations across cohorts and legal constraints to data sharing. The first arises from a lack of consensus in standards of data collection and representation across cohort studies and is usually tackled by applying data harmonization processes. The second is increasingly important due to raised awareness for privacy protection and stricter regulations, such as the GDPR. Federated learning has emerged as a privacy-preserving alternative to transferring data between institutions through analyzing data in a decentralized manner. Methods: In this study, we set up a federated learning infrastructure for a consortium of nine Dutch cohorts with appropriate data available to the etiology of dementia, including an extract, transform, and load (ETL) pipeline for data harmonization. Additionally, we assessed the challenges of transforming and standardizing cohort data using the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) common data model (CDM) and evaluated our tool in one of the cohorts employing federated algorithms. Results: We successfully applied our ETL tool and observed a complete coverage of the cohorts’ data by the OMOP CDM. The OMOP CDM facilitated the data representation and standardization, but we identified limitations for cohort-specific data fields and in the scope of the vocabularies available. Specific challenges arise in a multi-cohort federated collaboration due to technical constraints in local environments, data heterogeneity, and lack of direct access to the data. Conclusion: In this article, we describe the solutions to these challenges and limitations encountered in our study. Our study shows the potential of federated learning as a privacy-preserving solution for multi-cohort studies that enhance reproducibility and reuse of both data and analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104661
JournalJournal of Biomedical Informatics
Volume155
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2024

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