Terrell Russell, Ph.D

Executive Director

iRODS Consortium

 DAViDD: Initial data management

solution for UNC's


May 28-31, 2024

iRODS User Group Meeting 2024

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Development Initiative AViDD Center (READDI-AC) is an NIH-funded public-private partnership focused on developing effective antiviral drugs to combat emerging viruses.


The READDI-AC at UNC-Chapel Hill is one of nine Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers funded by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health.


$65M in 2022 - 40 Investigators, 23 Research Sites, 5 Countries


NIH Award 1U19AI171292-01


The response to viral outbreaks has historically been reactive – vaccines and medications are developed only after a new virus emerges. Our mission is to proactively prepare for emerging viruses by developing antiviral drugs that are active against more than one virus in a family. These broad-spectrum antivirals will help safeguard the well-being of communities worldwide against existing viruses and will be more likely to be effective against future novel viruses in the same family.


Four families:

  • Coronaviruses - causes SARS, MERS, COVID-19
  • Filoviruses - includes Ebola, Marburg
  • Flaviviruses - includes West Nile, Dengue, Zika
  • Alphaviruses - includes Chikungunya, Equine Encephalitis


RENCI, as a subawardee, was tasked to assess, design, and develop the data management solution for the READDI-AC project.


  • Interviews - July-August 2022
  • Survey - August 2022
    • Determination of existing lab workflows
    • Document types, variety, size, volume
    • Number and identity of humans in the loop
    • Opportunities for automation
    • Opportunities for cross-lab interactions
  • Security considerations - Fall 2022
  • Initial design of system - Fall 2022
  • Paper evaluation - Fall 2022
  • Initial implementation - Nov-Dec 2022
  • Testing - Dec 2022
  • Deployment - Jan 2023
  • Evaluation - Q1 2023
  • Iteration - through 2023
  • If you use instruments in your work, what is the format of files they produce?

  • Where do you currently record and store chemical or biological data? In what data format?

  • What keywords or other terms do you use to search for previously recorded data?

  • Do you use existing or public vocabularies, ontologies or other references?

  • Are you familiar with FAIR data sharing principles?

  • What are typical dataset sizes for each unit of work?

  • What is a typical data generation rate for your lab / unit?

  • What is a typical number of data files you generate per week?

  • Do you protect the stored data (do you require secure login/authentication to access your data?

  • How do you currently share your data with (i) your labmates, (ii) within UNC, (iii) with the rest of the world?

  • What software do you use to process or visualize your data?

  • Do you have a need to format your data for publication or presentation format?

  • What steps are manually processed today? What steps are automated today?

  • Where is manual processing required? Where can data processing be automated?

  • What limitations are your lab / group / team running into?

  • What is your highest priority or need for data capture or storage?

Discovery Questions

  • Not Big Data (yet)

    • 1000s of files over the course of a year

    • Maybe 10s of GBs, but most much smaller

    • Human scale rate of ingest

  • A few formats, mostly open / convertible

    • doc, pdf, xls, ppt, csv, txt, prism, jpg

  • Some electronic lab notebooks

    • Mostly xls

    • Manually calculated / generated

  • Very little currently automated

    • Manual transcription from paper notebooks

    • Graphing done in Excel or (rarely) Jupyter notebooks

Discovery Findings

  • No shared naming conventions

    • For either data filenames or metadata

    • Sometimes consistent within a lab

      • ​Due to necessity

      • But not over time

  • ​​Highest priority is access / sharing

    • ​​This project's data needs a 'home'

  • No centralized data repository

  • No standardized data processing (raw to publication quality) and data upload protocols

  • No versioning protocols

  • Metadata currently non-existent

  • Negative results / Failed attempts not recorded

  • HEIGHTENED NEED for RDM due to new NIH reqs

There was very little process to automate - we were starting from scratch and these labs did not have much in common.  Different instruments, different chemistry, different software, different processes, different formats.


Not their fault - they'd never been required to coordinate and collaborate in the past except via publications.  This was a new mandate.


There would be two projects:

  • People engineering
    • hardest part, scientists do not want to change their processes
    • requires many people to coordinate (expensive in time and effort)
  • Software engineering
    • a few puzzles to solve, but nothing too daunting
    • security requirements demand working with other parties

Design and Preparation

Software Engineering Requirements

  • federated login for otherwise unaffiliated researchers
  • secure enclave
  • just files, mostly spreadsheets
  • some annotation
  • automation where possible
  • search
  • available for analysis with existing tooling
    • probably via download
  • 4 VMs
    • RENCI Secure Enclave
  • docker compose
    • originally REST API
    • later HTTP API
  • CILogon providing identity

January 2023 - Initial Deployment

Angular Application

  • upload
  • assays
  • search
  • compound profile
  • FAQ
  • profile information


iRODS Policy - Four recurring rules

  • irule davidd_add_sweeper_to_queue
  • irule davidd_add_compound_profile_sweeper_to_queue
  • irule davidd_add_compound_profile_remover_to_queue
  • irule davidd_add_assays_sweeper_to_queue

DAViDD - Application and Policy

irule davidd_add_sweeper_to_queue

  • davidd_find_and_parse_uploaded_files
  • davidd_parse_and_place_jsonfile
    • parse python dict
    • prepare avus_to_add
    • decode file data, write it
    • associate avus

February 2023 - Upload

Associated metadata from upload form available to search and browse

March 2023 - File Metadata


  • matching on file name and metadata

March 2023 - Search

irule davidd_add_compound_profile_sweeper_to_queue

  • davidd_process_requested_profile
  • davidd_process_queued_file
  • davidd_walk_collection_for_compound_info
    • use openpyxl, read spreadsheets, populate new one

irule davidd_add_compound_profile_remover_to_queue

  • davidd_remove_old_compound_profiles
    • defined by compound_profile_removal_age_in_minutes

September 2023 - Compound Profile

irule davidd_add_assays_sweeper_to_queue

  • davidd_find_and_parse_assay_files
    • davidd_parse_and_place_jsonfile

January 2024 - Assays

Discovery and prototyping were a success

  • 4 labs interviewed
    • Many challenges identified and lessons learned
  • 3 federated login architectures attempted
    • Selected CILogon.org


353 datafiles uploaded in the first year

  • 105 Coronavirus
  • 173 Alphavirus
  • 27 Filovirus
  • 48 Flavivirus


Having identified the main requirements and bench-to-data process, the project selected an existing commercial vendor for its extensive GUI and compound-specific analysis tooling.


RENCI continues to develop database-level tooling focused on chemical compound information and linkages with other tools in the ecosystem.



  • NIH
  • Ava Vargason, Nat Moorman, Ralph Baric, Tim Willson, Toni Baric
  • Oleg Kapeljushnik, Kory Draughn, Alex Tropsha, Robert Hubal, Kelyne Kenmogne, Carrie Pasfield, Patrick Patton

The Future

Thank you!


UGM 2024 - DAViDD: Initial data management solution for UNC's READDI AViDD Center

By iRODS Consortium

UGM 2024 - DAViDD: Initial data management solution for UNC's READDI AViDD Center

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