NCBI dbGaP Project Requests


The NCBI Database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP) archives the results of studies that have investigated the interaction of genotype and phenotype and distributes these results to investigators for secondary study. The types of data available include phenotype data, association (GWAS) data, summary level analysis data, SRA (Short Read Archive) data, reference alignment (BAM) data, VCF (Variant Call Format) data, expression data, imputed genotype data, image data, etc.

New Project Requests

Investigators wishing to access dbGaP data sets must first complete:

  1. A dbGaP Data Access Application after logging into the NCBI dbGaP website ( using their eRA Commons account.
    1. After selecting the desired data sets and completing all requested information, the Investigator must then submit the application for Signing Official (SO) approval.
    2. For all requests, the SO and IT Director should be entered as follows:

SO Contact Information:
Name:                 Adam McDowell
Position:              Signing Official
Organization:      University of Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh
Street:                 300 MURDC, 3420 Forbes Avenue
City:                     Pittsburgh
State:                   PA
ZIP:                      15213
Phone:                 (412) 624-7400

IT Director Contact Information:
Name:                  John Duska
Position:               Deputy Chief Information Security Officer
Organization:       University of Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh
Street:                  1900 Cathedral of Learning
City:                     Pittsburgh
State:                   PA
ZIP:                     15260
Country:              USA
Phone:                (412) 624-4671

  1. Investigators must also initiate Office of Sponsored Programs review of the Project by submitting a MyRA DUA request.
    1. Investigators should select “NCI dbGaP” when prompted to upload an agreement draft.
    2. When asked “Does the data need to be stored and managed per any cited electronic security standards?” Investigators should select “Yes” and provide the name and email address of the departmental IT person that will be responsible for data security related to the Project.
    3. At minimum, all new Projects will require the following prior to SO approval*:
      1. All Investigators and Collaborators are required to complete an IT security awareness module and supply a certificate to the Office of Sponsored Programs. This can be satisfied by completing the “NIH Information Security Awareness for New Hires” module, publicly available via this link:
      2. Departmental IT Personnel are required to work with CSSD to complete an approved Data Security Plan. A CSSD Security Officer can assist with and provide approval for an adequate Data Security Plan. To initiate this process, IT Personnel should do the following:
        1. Access the Pitt IT Help Desk here.
        2. Fill out your Contact Information.
        3. Select ‘Submit a Request’ under ‘Service Requested’; select your Operating System.
        4. Insert the following information into the description box:
          Security Officer Approval: dbGaP DUA######## (Investigator Name)
          OR Contract Officer: [Assigned after MyRA submission]
          Brief Description: dbGaP Data Security Plan assistance and approval
      3. *IT Security Awareness Certificates and Data Security Plan approval can be uploaded as an attachment to the MyRA DUA submission on the “Additional Information” page if they are completed prior to submission. Prior completion will expedite Office of Sponsored Programs review.

Project Renewals and Project Closeouts

For Project Renewals and Project Closeouts, investigators will receive automatic messages from the dbGaP system prompting them to login and complete the necessary renewal or closeout procedure. Once the Investigator updates and completes the application, it should be submitted for SO approval. Additionally, a MyRA Amendment is required to initiate Office of Sponsored Programs review and approval of the request. A MyRA Amendment can be created by clicking “Create Amendment” under “My Current Actions” on the active DUA’s main page.

Help and Guidance

Many help resources are available from NCBI to guide investigators and administrators through all stages of a dbGaP Project:

  • dbGaP FAQ Archive – This is a comprehensive guide to the dbGaP system and is a great place to start if you have any questions
  • dbGaP Tutorial  -  This tutorial provides a guided view of the main components of the dbGaP system
  • dbGaP YouTube – Similar to the above, these YouTube tutorials provide guidance through various aspects of the dbGaP system and process
  • dbGaP Help Contact – If the above resources do not answer a specific question, questions can also be submitted for review by dbGaP Staff here

For institutional guidance regarding dbGaP requests, investigators and administrators may contact the Office of Sponsored Programs Clinical and Corporate Contract Services Team via email at