This page provides detail about how to apply for access to human GWAS data and links to the relevant policies regarding data use.
The primary objective of our human genome-wide association studies (GWAS) is to identify genetic variants that confer resistance or susceptibility to severe malaria. We're also developing methodologies to investigate the genetic basis of common diseases in Africa and other malaria-endemic countries.
In pursuing these objectives, the MalariaGEN Consortium has generated substantial data resources and collectively agreed to a managed access mechanism for releasing these data (see Parker et al, 2009). Following a nine month embargo period, human GWAS data sets are deposited in the European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA) to promote the scientific use of these data and to encourage research of relevance to developing countries.
Access to individual-level genotype data is available by application to an Independent Data Access Committee (IDAC), and granted subject to the MalariaGEN Data Release Policy for Genome-wide Association Data and the terms of the MalariaGEN Data Access Agreement.
Applicants should also be aware that MalariaGEN retains the right to publish first on areas within the scope of the project, see the MalariaGEN Consortium's research and publication plan below.
Applying for access
In making their decision, the IDAC will consider whether the proposed use of the data is compatible with the policies that govern use of these data. The MalariaGEN Data Release Policy for Genome-wide Association Data was developed in consultation with our partners and responds to the important ethical issues arising from the collection, storage, use, and sharing of human genetic data, including the need to provide protection for participants and communities being sampled.
We have chosen to release individual-level genotype data prior to the completion of our own analyses. To ensure that this openness doesn’t negatively impact our ability or that of our partners to achieve our scientific objectives, MalariaGEN retains the right to first publication on the data based on the principles described in the Fort Lauderdale report. All applicants should read the MalariaGEN Data Release Policy for Genome-wide Association Data and consider the MalariaGEN research and publication plan before applying for access to human GWAS data.
For examples of IDAC-approved projects, see our list of human GWAS data users which summarizes the research projects that have been granted access to MalariaGEN human GWAS data.
How to apply
- Complete the application form (DOC 112KB)
- Complete the MalariaGEN Data Access Agreement (DAA) (PDF 72.26KB)
- Email PDFs of both your completed application form and the DAA to the IDAC Secretary at malariagen-idac [at] ethox.ox.ac.uk.
For more information about the DAA, please see the additional guidance for accessing human GWAS data.
The application process
Applications for access to data can be submitted at any time; the IDAC considers applications on a rolling basis.
The IDAC Secretary will check that the application is complete and within the remit of the IDAC. The application is then forwarded to all IDAC Members for review.
Each IDAC Member will review the application to determine if the proposed research is compatible with the policies that govern the use of these data. In doing so, they will consider the scientific profile of applicants, whether proposed research is allowed within the relevant ethical approvals, and whether any overlap exists with MalariaGEN’s planned analyses as outlined in the MalariaGEN Consortium's research and publication plan. This process may require going back to the ethics committees or the applicants for further information or clarification.
The IDAC aims to provide a decision within 2 months of receipt; less straightforward applications may take longer to review. Once the application has been reviewed, the IDAC secretary will contact the lead applicant with the decision.
If approved, your institution is required to finalise the Data Access Agreement with the University of Oxford which manages the MalariaGEN human GWAS data on behalf of the MalariaGEN Consortium members. The IDAC Secretary will check that the DAA submitted with the original application has been properly completed and forward it to the Oxford University Research Services who will complete the date and countersign the agreement. A fully executed copy will be returned to the lead applicant for their records.
Upon confirmation of receipt of the fully executed DAA, the IDAC secretary will register all approved applicants with EGA using the email addresses provided in the application form. The EGA will then contact all approved applicants directly to provide them with login details in order to access the data.
Like many research consortia, the MalariaGEN Consortium seeks to achieve a balance between sharing the data resources it has generated with the research community, and protecting the first publication rights of the data producers. In keeping with Fort Lauderdale principles, data users may use the data for many types of studies, but are expected to allow the data producers to publish their initial analyses of the data first.
MalariaGEN plans to publish several manuscripts based on its genotype data, focusing on the following areas:
- Genetic association studies of malaria and malaria related traits, including SNPs, haplotypes and structural variants
- Population structure, including markers and methods of dealing with structure in genetic association studies
- Patterns of linkage disequilibrium and haplotype structure, including population differences
- Signatures of natural selection
We ask other data users to respect this work and refrain from publishing analyses on these areas using our human GWAS data, prior to the initial MalariaGEN publications on these questions. As we publish these planned analyses, we will update the information on this page.
More information about the Fort Lauderdale report is available on the Wellcome Trust website.