The NKI-Rockland Sample: A Model for Accelerating the Pace of Discovery Science in Psychiatry

Front Neurosci. 2012 Oct 16;6:152. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00152. eCollection 2012.


The National Institute of Mental Health strategic plan for advancing psychiatric neuroscience calls for an acceleration of discovery and the delineation of developmental trajectories for risk and resilience across the lifespan. To attain these objectives, sufficiently powered datasets with broad and deep phenotypic characterization, state-of-the-art neuroimaging, and genetic samples must be generated and made openly available to the scientific community. The enhanced Nathan Kline Institute-Rockland Sample (NKI-RS) is a response to this need. NKI-RS is an ongoing, institutionally centered endeavor aimed at creating a large-scale (N > 1000), deeply phenotyped, community-ascertained, lifespan sample (ages 6-85 years old) with advanced neuroimaging and genetics. These data will be publically shared, openly, and prospectively (i.e., on a weekly basis). Herein, we describe the conceptual basis of the NKI-RS, including study design, sampling considerations, and steps to synchronize phenotypic and neuroimaging assessment. Additionally, we describe our process for sharing the data with the scientific community while protecting participant confidentiality, maintaining an adequate database, and certifying data integrity. The pilot phase of the NKI-RS, including challenges in recruiting, characterizing, imaging, and sharing data, is discussed while also explaining how this experience informed the final design of the enhanced NKI-RS. It is our hope that familiarity with the conceptual underpinnings of the enhanced NKI-RS will facilitate harmonization with future data collection efforts aimed at advancing psychiatric neuroscience and nosology.

Keywords: DTI; brain; discovery; fMRI; lifespan; open science; phenotype; psychiatry.