LDI Health Services Research Data Center

High Security Data Service for LDI Senior Fellows


Established in 2005, the LDI Health Services Research Data Center (HSRDC) provides data services to LDI-affiliated investigators who use highly sensitive patient information in their research. The HSRDC is comprised of secure high-performance servers within the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine that have the necessary security protections to permit storage and analysis of data containing Protected Health Information by LDI-affiliated investigators and research staff.

Data that are Appropriate for HSRDC

Since this computational environment is maintained at a high-security level in accordance with federal regulations governing secure computer systems (e.g., the Federal Information Security Management Act-FISMA), the HSRDC is limited solely to research using data that require high security such as data with individually identifiable, protected health information. Lower security datasets that include anonymous patient surveys, de-identified data, publicly available data, etc. should be stored and analyzed more economically on other University resources, such as Penn+Box, etc.

The HSRDC server cluster is designed for the analysis of “complete” databases that are uploaded once by our IT administrators. Since users are not allowed to upload their own data, the HSRDC is not an appropriate storage infrastructure for data from clinical trials, surveys, or other data sources that require more frequent updates.

Documentation Requirements

Data that includes Protected Health Information obtained outside of the University of Pennsylvania requires a Data Use Agreement (DUA) specifically permitting storage of the data on the HSRDC. HSRDC staff must be provided with an executed DUA before data will be uploaded, and current DUA documentation must be sent to HSRDC staff annually.

Technical Details

HSRDC servers utilize RedHat Linux operating systems, and data can be stored and analyzed using SAS, Stata, and R. Please note that “Windows-based” programs are not available in the HSRDC environment. Users wishing to use other software are fully responsible for the licensing costs, and installation of the specialized software will be evaluated by HSRDC staff on a case-by-case basis.