NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy

NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy (GDS Policy) applies to all NIH-funded research that generates large-scale human or non-human genomic data, regardless of the funding level, as well as future use of the data.  The policy includes the NIH’s expectations and requirements for the broad sharing of genomic data. The Policy applies to contracts and all grant types, with few exceptions (T-types, K12s, and Fs, for example).

Grants applications and IRB protocols should include details of the required data sharing plan. In general, consent documents should include language that allows for the broad future sharing of genomic data.

1) When does the policy go into effect?

January 25, 2015

2) What is the purpose of the policy?

To ensure the broad and responsible sharing of genomic research data generated from NIH-funded research.

3) What research is covered by the policy?

NIH-funded research that generates large-scale (defined as >100 individuals) human genomic data as well as the use of that data for subsequent research.  This includes genome-wide association studies, genome sequence, single nucleotide polymorphisms arrays, transcriptonic, metagenetic, epigenomic and gene expression data.  This policy applies to grants, contract and cooperative agreements funded by NIH.  Non-human genomic data is also covered by the policy, but is subject to different requirements (see Section IV.B of the Policy and Supplemental Information)

4) What are the investigator responsibilities when preparing a proposal for NIH funding and before award?

(a) NIH application:

Investigators seeking NIH funding should contact their NIH Institute or Center (IC) Program Official or Project Officer to discuss the project, data sharing plan and data certification process. 

Basic plans for following this policy should be included in the “Genomic Data Sharing Plan” located in the Resources Sharing Plan section of the grant application.  Data sharing plans should describe how the expectations of the policy will be met, including how data will be de-identified, how consent will be obtained and how the consent language will be written to specify broad data sharing.

Resources needed to support the Genomic Data Sharing Plan should be included in the budget.

(b)  Just-in-Time:

A more detailed Genomic Data Sharing Plan must be provided to the funding IC prior to award.

The Institutional Certification for sharing human data must be provided to the funding IC prior to award.  The Institutional Certification will include IRB approval, limitations or restrictions to data sharing, and state that data are being submitted to a controlled-access database.

5) When is an IRB application required?

If the study has not already been submitted to and approved by the IRB, an eIRB2 application should be submitted when the investigator has received a score that is in the fundable range. 

A planning phase application is acceptable if the complete study documents and details have not been developed; a Genomic Data Sharing IRB Form should be uploaded with the application (link at end of FAQs).

6) When must human data be submitted to an NIH repository?

Investigators should register all studies that will include human genomic data that fall within the scope of this policy in dbGaP by the time data clearing and quality control measures begin.  After registration, investigators should submit the data to the relevant NIH repository.

Large-scale human genomic data should be submitted to a repository in a timely manner, as described in the Supplemental Information to the NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy.

Data should be de-identified according to standards set forth by DHHS in 45 CFR 46.102(f) and the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

7) What information regarding repository submission must be included in the consent form?

For studies initiated after January 25, 2015, the consent form should include a provision for genomic and phenotypic data to be used for future research and shared broadly, and a statement that a participant’s individual level data will be shared through a controlled-access repository.  Although NIH maintains both unrestricted and controlled- access repositories, the IRB will certify for submission only to a controlled-access repository.

For studies using genomic data from cell lines or clinical specimens that were created or collected after January 25, 2015, informed consent for future research and broad data sharing must be obtained, even if the cell lines or clinical specimens are de-identified.

For studies conducted prior to January 25, 2015, the IRB will determine whether data submission is not inconsistent with the informed consent provided by the participant.

8) What is an Institutional Certification?

The Institutional Official is required to provide a certification to the IC prior to award consistent with the genomic data sharing plan submitted with the funding request.  The IRB will obtain this certification from the IO.

A request for Institutional Certification must be submitted to the IRB (either in the initial application or as a change in research).

The IRB must review the data submission proposal and assure that

9) What are the steps for study registration and data submission?

View NIH Steps for dbGaP Genomic Study Registration and Submission of Data

View web tutorial – dbGaP: Complete a Study Registration

10) Are there any exceptions to this policy?

There are limited exceptions, as described in the policy.


List – Data Repositories (website) 

Policy – NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy (pdf)

          – Supplemental Information (pdf)

Model consent language – Informed Consent for Genomics Research (website)