A software solution for secure bioscience collaboration

DataSHIELD is an infrastructure and series of R packages that enables the remote and non-disclosive analysis of sensitive research data. Users are not required to have prior knowledge of R.

What Is DataSHIELD?

DataSHIELD is an open-source software for the privacy-preserving analysis of biomedical, healthcare and social-science data.

Crucially, the data remain secure behind the firewalls on the system where they usually reside, and under the complete control of their primary custodian.

Latest DataSHIELD News

Upcoming Events


DataSHIELD progress in 2021

Dear DataSHIELD community,

2021 has continued to be a challenging year for us all but, despite the difficulties, DataSHIELD has made enormous progress and the fruits of our labour are beginning to be apparent with a hugely successful conference showcasing the breadth of work that is being carried out and the scientific results it facilitates. Thank you to all! This would not have been possible without the input of so many members of the growing international DataSHIELD community.

High points through the year have included:

*       The return of the DataSHIELD conference after a one year absence, this time as a remote event that enabled participation of a large amount of people from across Europe and beyond.

*       Ongoing community growth and organisation, with consolidation of the role of the DataSHIELD Advisory Board to ensure DataSHIELD's evolution is driven by the growing international community of users and developers.

*       Continual releases and improvements to the software built on a rigorous program of continuous integration to ensure new developments work as they should and do not interfere with earlier functionality. We are now at release v6.1.1 of DataSHIELD which takes full advantage of key developments in the underlying Opal middleware including "DSI" and "Resources": DataSHIELD can now work with high volume data (including 'omics using the new package 'dsExposome' which is devoted to the analysis and integration of exposome with health) and data can be pulled from almost any source including the Molgenis data platform.

*       Continuing adoption of DataSHIELD for use by large research consortia with a growing interest from potential health service users.

*       Regular drop-in sessions, workshops and tutorials for new and established users.

*       And many others!

We look forward to continuing our collaborations and welcoming new members into our community in 2022 and send everyone our best greetings for the holiday season, hoping that you all have a very happy and healthy new year.

Andrei Morgan, Becca Wilson and Paul Burton (on behalf of the DataSHIELD Advisory Board and DataSHIELD Team)

DataSHIELD Conference (Online) 10-11 November 2021

The DataSHIELD Advisory Board organised a two day conference which was held on 10-11 November 2021. This looked to the past, present and future of DataSHIELD and the community, showcasing achievements from the first ten years, highlighting scientific advances that privacy protected distributed analysis has helped facilitate, and provided tasters of new community developments, functionality, and applications,

The agenda included a mix of talks and demonstrations, and discussion sessions which covered DataSHIELD community-led solutions to a range of development and application challenges. 

 This conference was aimed at: 

  • those unfamiliar with DataSHIELD, or who have a potential new use-case and wish to find out more
  • current DataSHIELD users - including researchers and developers
  • those developing new statistical methodology,  functionality or infrastructure for DataSHIELD.  

Short talks relating to scientific advances that have been facilitated using DataSHIELD were covered, including examples of how disseminated analysis has been used to facilitate other scientific progress. Demonstrations and discussion sessions covered DataSHIELD technical & methodological development, usecases or ethico-legal-social issues.  

We have now uploaded recordings for all talks, and these are available to view on the DataSHIELD YouTube channel

Ongoing DataSHIELD Newcomers' Workshops

  Time: TBA in the New Year 2022
  Length: 2h30 (1h15 presentation, 1h15 break out to try yourself)
  Venue: Zoom. To get access, Please register for the workshop by emailing datashield@newcastle.ac.uk and providing your NameInstitutionProjects you are involved with.

  Details: We will show newcomers to the DataSHIELD non-disclosive statistical software package, all the key features to get started, and to know where to go next in their analyses. The workshop will last 2h30.
The first 1h15 will be a presentation of what is DataSHIELD, how to connect, and a demo of some key analysis functions. The second 1h15 will be opened out to let you try installing yourselves, and asking questions if and when you encounter problems.

Please note these are intended to be beginner level questions, relevant to all newcomers.

We very much look forward to seeing you there!


Dropin Sessions

Join Tim Cadman and the DataSHIELD team every Tuesday morning between 10.00-11.00am (GMT) for an informal Q&A session - Zoom link .

DataSHIELD progress last year

DataSHIELD progress in 2020 includes new International Advisory Board - read more

We also ran 4 successful DataSHIELD workshops, including DIY elements- see our blog page for the video recordings (Summer 2020, Winter 2020)

Partnership with vantage6

The federated learning landscape is evolving incredibly fast. This is in large part due to its fantastic community, which is pushing the boundaries of what decentralized analysis can do. Moreover, the intrinsic nature of this technology promotes collaborations across different parties.

As one of these collaborations, we are thrilled to announce a partnership between DataSHIELD and vantage6. In case you don’t know, vantage6 is a priVAcy preserviNg federaTed leArning infrastructurE for Secure Insight eXchange. It is a modern and flexible architecture capable of supporting


data sources and study types that is being continuously developed by the federated learning community and is mostly maintained by IKNL (the Integraal Kankercentrum Netherland, or Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organization). You can learn more about them here.

What is the purpose of this partnership?

Our objective is to leverage the best of these two solutions: we want to make the extensive DataSHIELD toolset available through vantage6. In other words, users of vantage6 will be able to use the well curated and carefully reviewed analysis methods in DataSHIELD, all while keeping the data of each party safe. Read more on our blog post here.


New Update: Version 6.1.1

We have just released the lastest update of DataSHIELD - a maintenance update for the main Version 6.1 release which went live in the latter part of last year. The full update notes are available at our latest release page.

We have also started planning the release of DataSHIELD v6.2. Now would be a good time for feedback on what you would like to see featured in it. Please post a request on forum (sign up for free) or use our Get in Touch page regarding this.

Community Map

We have just put together a google map showing all the institutions worldwide where DataSHIELD is used.

It is by no means comprehensive- if your institution is missing please get in touch!

Learn more about who uses DataSHIELD here.