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 Conference: 19th-21st October 2022 in Barcelona

The 2022 DataSHIELD conference will take place over 3 days, hosted by ISGlobal in Barcelona

The form for submission of Abstracts is now open .

Click here to view the events page for more information and to register.

DataSHIELD mentioned in Report

"Federated analytics is readily achievable and has already been successfully implemented on NHS data in some form, delivering a range of completed analytic outputs in open code projects such as OpenSAFELY and DataShield (the latter in particular with a large existing user-base)."

Two member of the DataSHIELD team Dr. Becca Wilson and Dr. Olly Butters, contributed their time, thoughts, and ideas to this review.


Update Released: Version 6.2

We have just released the lastest update of DataSHIELD - a major update release. View what is available in the full update notes, available at our latest release page.

If you find any issues with the new update, please make them known to us by posting on the forum (sign up for free) .

We are making plans for the next release, so feedback, requests and questions would also be welcome on the forum.

Next DataSHIELD beginners workshop

  Date: Monday 9th May 2022
: 12:00-13:30 CEST (11:00-12:30 GMT)
  Length: 1h30 (1h presentation, 30 mins questions/get started yourself)
  Venue: Zoom. To get access, Please register for the workshop by emailing datashield@newcastle.ac.uk and providing your 
  • Name
  • Institution
  • Projects 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 first 1h will be a presentation of what DataSHIELD is, how to connect, and a demo of some key analysis functions. The remaining 30 minutes will be opened out to let you ask questions, and even try to get going yourself if you feel ready. Please note these are intended to be beginner level questions, relevant to all newcomers.

We very much look forward to seeing you there!


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


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.

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.