GenePING: secure, scalable management of personal genomic data

Adida, Ben; Kohane, Isaac S
January 2006
BMC Genomics;2006, Vol. 7, p93
Academic Journal
Background: Patient genomic data are rapidly becoming part of clinical decision making. Within a few years, full genome expression profiling and genotyping will be affordable enough to perform on every individual. The management of such sizeable, yet fine-grained, data in compliance with privacy laws and best practices presents significant security and scalability challenges. Results: We present the design and implementation of GenePING, an extension to the PING personal health record system that supports secure storage of large, genome-sized datasets, as well as efficient sharing and retrieval of individual datapoints (e.g. SNPs, rare mutations, gene expression levels). Even with full access to the raw GenePING storage, an attacker cannot discover any stored genomic datapoint on any single patient. Given a large-enough number of patient records, an attacker cannot discover which data corresponds to which patient, or even the size of a given patient's record. The computational overhead of GenePING's security features is a small constant, making the system usable, even in emergency care, on today's hardware. Conclusion: GenePING is the first personal health record management system to support the efficient and secure storage and sharing of large genomic datasets. GenePING is available online at http://ping.chip.org/genepinghtml, licensed under the LGPL.


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