Making data findable - the Terra Interoperability Model (TIM)

Allie Hajian
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A common data model lets researchers find and access the data they need from multiple sources quickly. Read on for an overview of the Terra Interoperable Model (TIM) and links to additional resources. 

What is the Terra Interoperability Model (TIM)?

TIM is a data model that enables data sharing and reuse across the large federated space of datasets for biomedical research.  Its common concepts and relationships enable researchers to find highly-connected biomedical data and to interoperate among datasets that share key parts of the data model.


Examples of searches

Find single cell data for human/mouse where ACE2 and TMPRSS2 genes are highly expressed to find cell types susceptible to Covid19 infection

Find all glioma data that I can access for commercial research

Find single-cell data from samples with HIV and an intracellular pathogens

I need RNA-seq, Hi-C, and ChIP-seq data from adult brain tissue -- normal and diseased -- with malignant glioma

How did the Terra Interoperability Model come about?

The Terra Interoperability Model is an ongoing joint effort between the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard’s Data Sciences Platform and the Core Data Model Team at Broad.  The Institute was founded to bring together researchers with expertise across various disciplines to meet emerging challenges of biomedicine.  The Core Data Model Team leverages this environment to bring experts in genomics, computational chemical biology, epigenomics, single-cell genomics, medicine, and other disciplines together with data modelers and software engineers. Researchers provide insight into how methods and technologies in the lab are evolving.  This results in a data model that is driven by researcher questions, reflects the science, and anticipates changes in rapidly-evolving areas of research.


A brief history of the Broad's search for a common data model

(Kathy Reinold's talk from the 2020 BioIT conference)

TIM is formally specified using the OWL web ontology language and leverages other standards where possible. 

Additional Resources 

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