National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes for Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research. Composed of 27 Institutes and Centers, the NIH provides leadership and financial support to researchers in every state and throughout the world.

To expedite investigative analysis for the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the NIH extended grants to PDQ to support the development of PDQ-Explore. Doing so would give NICHD and NIA scientists and researchers the ability to process complex queries on massive public data sets in a fraction of the time it would take with their existing computing systems.

Operating under tight deadlines, PDQ successfully provided NICHD and NIA researchers, who were located around the world, with access to PDQ-Explore. The Web-based PDQ-Explore application provided each user with access to over 20 million sample records from the U.S. decennial census. Also included were the 1990 and 2000 Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS), permitting unprecedented in-depth investigative analyses.

Taking advantage of PDQ-Explore's easy-to-use interface, researchers and scientists became acquainted with the public data sets in minutes and hours -- rather than the weeks and months it would take using conventional analytic packages. Such rapid, easy access to valuable public data sets was a real breakthrough for NIA and NICHD researchers. Instead of being distracted by data management issues, the researchers and scientists could dedicate their focus to interactive querying that would reveal answers to critical questions and issues. And ultimately, this helped the NIH further its goal of improving health and longevity for children and seniors.