Reiteration of the Commitment of NIH to Protect Sensitive Data and Information Used in Research

Notice Number: NOT-OD-07-054

Key Dates
Release Date: March 9, 2007

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

  • March 28, 2014 - See Notice NOT-OD-14-073. Maintaining Confidentiality in NIH Peer Review.
  • April 11, 2008 - See Notice NOT-OD-08-066 - NIH renews focus on protecting sensitive data and information used in research.

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH), (

This notice serves to reiterate the National Institutes of Health’s commitment to protect sensitive personal data and information used in research to advance the health and well being of all Americans.  A recent security breach at a non-HHS Federal facility led to the loss of a portable media device which potentially contained sensitive information.

Recipients of NIH funded research are reminded of their responsibility to protect sensitive and confidential data as part of proper stewardship of federally funded research, and take reasonable and appropriate action to prevent the inadvertent disclosure, release or loss of sensitive personal information.  This may include the safeguarding of data and confidential information by encryption of portable electronic devices including laptops, CDs, disc drives, flash drives, etc; by a combination of access controls like password protection and other means; and by transmitting research data only when the security of the recipient’s systems are known and are satisfactory to the transmitter.

NIH recognizes that protecting research data and information can be particularly challenging and can create a burden that may be viewed as interfering with the research enterprise.  It is not our intention to obstruct research, but to raise awareness of the situation and to have our grantees take reasonable measures to safeguard the information entrusted to them by research participants.


For additional information, please contact Dr. Sally Rockey, Deputy Director, Office of Extramural Research, National Institutes of Health.  301-496-1096 or