Ironic, yes, but, apparently, quite true. “Big Data” research is all the rage currently, as evidenced by announcement by the White House in March 2012 of $200 million in funding for big data research and development. The National Library of Medicine NLM), a component of the National Institutes of Health, has been a key supporter of many big data databases since at least 1990 according to data published in Nature. However, the focus for NLM’s future funding is on supporting the development of new ideas rather than supporting existing resources, regardless of how important those resources may be for ongoing research.
This is not a new problem. I recall at a former institution struggling to determine how to fund maintaing a large data repository for a longitudinal study amassed by several investigators funded by grants over many years – but which was no longer connected directly to a funded research project. However, the problem does seem to be getting some real attention, which is good – because if there is one thing we can expect as an outcome from Big Data research and development initiatives, its more big data repositories.