Jul 27, 2010

Winsborough, Niu, and von Ronne receive $1.16M NSF grant

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a competitive four-year $1.16M grant to support the research of computer science faculty William Winsborough, Jianwei Niu, and Jeffery von Ronne at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Their research project, which is supported by NSF's Trustworthy Computing Program, will developa methodology for ensuring that software systems comply with privacy policies.

Information systems that handle personal information must adhere to legal regulations, corporate privacy policies, and contractual agreements designed to protect personal privacy. These policies specify under what circumstances information may be shared and what obligation are incurred as a result of that information sharing. Such requirements regarding personal information occur in many settings, but the immediate focus of the project will be on the needs of the medical industry, and the project plans to draw on the domain expertise of Sam Miller, M.D., an endocrinologist who directs a clinical research center.

As medical practice transitions to electronic medical records held in information systems, there is an acute need for a capability of verifying that these systems comply with applicable privacy policies. Drs. Winsborough, Niu, and von Ronne will provide such a capability by creating a software development framework that uses novel techniques to provide assurance that software developed using the framework complies with formally-specified privacy policies. The framework will include policy analysis tools, a programming language, program analysis tools,and a runtime environment. These components will be able to be used in concert to produce distributed information systems and formally verify that the resulting systems handle personal information according to applicable policies.