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Secure Research Data Analytics

SERDA logo, tagline: Moving clinical research forward

The UR CTSI offers University of Rochester researchers a secure and convenient way to access and analyze clinical data containing protected health information (PHI). The Secure Environment for Research Data Analytics (SERDA), is free to use and offers analytical tools, secure data storage and data backup – all accessible from your desktop.

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SERDA is a secure workspace that contains both the data and tools that researchers need for their analytical work. SERDA is a crucial component in the University’s Data Loss Prevention strategy to minimize loss of PHI. Given that a high percentage of clinical research projects require PHI, this secure, on premise solution is particularly attractive for controlling PHI breach within URMC.

System Capabilities

  • Each workstation is assigned to a single user and all data or software loaded is persistent.
  • Citrix VDI allows connections from various laptop devices, such as MAC, IPAD and Windows
  • The SERDA environment will prevent PHI data breach by preventing PHI from leaving the SERDA environment. Examples include limiting access to external websites, printing, uploading data to another website, email access, etc. The SERDA environment is not a replacement for your personal computer.
  • All users have access to an RSSFile share specifically created for their project. This is a space where all project team members can share files. Every project will have a designated folder and sub-folder for PHI data storage (where appropriate) and only users authorized to access PHI data will have access.
  • There is a 50-gigabyte quota per project.

Get Started

SERDA Quick Start Guide is available. A URMC Box account is required to access this document.


How can I work with SERDA?

A study team can have designated SERDA desktop(s) allocated to the team member(s) who need access. Researchers access their SERDA desktop via Citrix (either Citrix App web site or Citrix Workspace). A secondary URMC account is required to login to the SERDA desktop. SERDA has its own private and secure network storage (RSSFile), in which each study has a project folder. Only authorized study team members may have shared access to the project folder. The UR CTSI will work with study teams to create accounts, and prepare SERDA desktop(s) and study folder(s) on RSSFile during the onboarding process.

Do you have a user guide for working with SERDA?

Yes, there is a SERDA Quick Start Guide. You will need a URMC Box account to see this document.

What machine can I get in SERDA?

SERDA provides two standard types of virtual machines: 4 vCPU with 8 GB RAM, 8 vCPU with 16 GB RAM. The virtual machine has Windows 10 OS installed. Mac and Linux are NOT available for SERDA desktop.

What is the cost for SERDA?

The SERDA enviroment is free to use.  

What analytical software is available in SERDA?

Analytical software that is commonly used in data analysis for research is provided in SERDA via the University’s Software Center. Available open-source tools and licensed software, include:

  • SAS
  • SPSS
  • JMP
  • R Studio
  • Python
  • Microsoft Office
  • DBeaver
  • PowerBI Desktop
  • Stata

Can I bring my own tools or download new tools (i.e. R package) to SERDA?

Researchers are able to download R packages, Python libraries, etc., into their own SERDA desktop to meet their analytical needs.

How can I get data into the SERDA desktop?

You have READ-ONLY access to your home directory (H drive) on your SERDA desktop. Files can be copied to the H drive first outside SERDA, and then copied from H drive to SERDA desktop.

Can I get data out of the SERDA desktop?

Yes, only de-identified analytical outcomes, including charts, tables, data files, etc., can be exported from SERDA. Principle investigators are fully responsible for reviewing and approving the artifact export requested by their study team members. Please refer to the SERDA Quick Start Guide for the process of exporting artifact from SERDA.