Sharing data under the 21st Century Cures Act

Genet Med. 2017 Dec;19(12):1289-1294. doi: 10.1038/gim.2017.59. Epub 2017 May 25.


On 13 December 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act ("the Act") into law. Many of its provisions support the creation of an "Information Commons," an ecosystem of separate but interconnected initiatives that facilitate open and responsible sharing of genomic and other data for research and clinical purposes. For example, the Act supports the National Institutes of Health in mandating data sharing, provides funding and guidance for the large national cohort program now known as All of Us, expresses congressional support for a global pediatric study network, and strengthens patient access to health information. The Act also addresses potential barriers to data sharing. For example, it makes the issuance of certificates of confidentiality automatic for federally funded research involving "identifiable, sensitive" information and strengthens the associated protections. At the same time, the Act exacerbates or neglects several challenges, for example, increasing complexity by adding a new definition of "identifiable" and failing to address the financial sustainability of data sharing and the scope of commercialization. In sum, the Act is a positive step, yet there is still much work to be done before the goals of broad data sharing and utilization can be achieved.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United States