Welcome to the R&D Lab!
The R&D Lab focuses on applied technology research and development (R&D) for public health. The R&D team examines new technologies, such as mobile devices, prototype software, and even robotics, to test their potential value to CDC and its public health partners.
In addition to carrying out this applied R&D and sharing its results with CDC and the public health community, the R&D team also supports the day-to-day operations of the R&D Lab.
In 2011, the R&D Lab underwent a significant transformation to allow it to support the needs of CDC staff throughout the agency.
In addition to carrying out applied research, sharing evaluations, and developing prototypes, the R&D team also provides consultation to CDC and its public health partners.
Not surprisingly, the R&D team is made up of individuals with significantly varied backgrounds and areas of expertise. These areas include hardware design, mobile software development, graphics/user experience, web-based application development, enterprise architecture, and clinical/public health informatics.
Q: When was the R&D Lab created?
A: The R&D Lab was originally formed in 2007, as a small resource to meet the need for on-going information technology-related research and development activities. Due to various policy, technology, and security constraints, the lab was created as an entity separate from the CDC network. In 2010, the R&D lab became part of CDC Informatics Research & Development Unit (IRDU) within the Public Health Informatics and Technology Program Office in the Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services.
Q: What services does the R&D Lab provide?
A: The R&D Lab provides a wide variety of desktop and server resources, and does this leveraging cutting-edge virtualization technology. When a CDC scientist or a public health partner is provided 1,2, or even 3 computers (e.g., a standard MS Windows desktop computer, a MS Windows application server, and a MS SQL Server database server), he/she is being provided a slice of the R&D Lab's "cloud." If demand on those servers increases, the R&D lab infrastructure can compensate to meet that demand (e.g., by adding more memory, more disk space, or even more computers) without taking the system offline. The R&D Lab can create virtual instances of Windows (Server, XP, Vista, 7, and others), Linux, and Unix that can be securely accessed over the Internet. The only R&D Lab resources that must be used at CDC's 2500 Century Center facility are the computers that run the MacOS‚ which do not allow for virtualization.
Q: What types of projects cannot be run in the R&D Lab?
A: As an R&D lab, at no time are projects to use live data that contains information about health status, provision of health care, or payment for health care that can be linked to a specific individual. In addition, lab projects are not to create production systems, nor connect to production systems. The focus needs to be on a proof of concept or prototype.
Q: What is a Brief Review?
A: A brief review is a short, timely, informal summary of a new tool or technology to provide the public health community a concise perspective. In many cases a brief review may evolve into a more detailed, formal structured evaluation. The reviews cover pertinent information such as features, functionality, and recommendations.
Q: What is a Prototype?
A: We consider a prototype a software project that demonstrates a concept, tests an approach, or experiments with a new technology. Typically, the R&D Lab will work with one or more public health programs to develop prototype software that addresses a specific public health problem.
Q: What is a Structured Evaluation?
A: Formal testing and evaluation of technologies that have a potential impact on public health practice. These evaluations use a framework and template developed by the Informatics Research & Development team to develop a consistent quantitative and qualitative review of a specific technology, and examining its value to public health.