PhenX Toolkit

The PhenX (consensus measures for Phenotypes and eXposures) Toolkit ( is an online catalog of standard measures of phenotypes and exposures for use in biomedical research. PhenX measures cover a broad scope of research domains (e.g., Demographics, Cardiovascular, Diet and Nutrition) and provide depth in Substance Abuse and Addiction (SAA).

The goals of PhenX are to foster collaboration and to facilitate cross-study analyses. Many common complex diseases share similar underlying risk factors—such as alcohol and tobacco use; history of cardiovascular disease and or diabetes; and obesity. The consistent use of measurement protocols in different studies makes it easier to validate results and to combine study data. Larger sample size increases statistical power and makes it possible to detect more subtle and more complex gene associations. Use of standard (PhenX) measures supports future cross-study analyses, thus increasing the overall impact of study results.

PhenX Toolkit Contents

The measures in the Toolkit are well established protocols that are identified by experts in the field. The Toolkit includes all the necessary information to administer the protocol and record the data, including:

  • A brief description of the measure
  • Recommended protocol(s) for collecting the measure
  • The rationale for selecting the protocol
  • Details about  personnel and equipment needed to collect the protocol
  • A description of special requirements for collecting the protocol
  • References

PhenX Toolkit Features

  • Search options: Smart Query Tool (ontology based) and Text (full-text) Query
  • Browse options: Domains, Measures, Collections, Supplemental Information, and hierarchical tree view
  • Standards : cancer Data Standards Registry and Repository (caDSR), Common Data Elements (CDEs), National Center for Biomedical Ontologies (NCBO), and Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC)
  • Data Dictionary and Data Collection Worksheets
  • Featured Measure and Top Measures
  • Register Your Study: allowing users to find other studies using the same measures and to identify opportunities for cross-study analysis
  • Registered Users have access to additional features and functionality
  • Quick Start and Tutorial resources help new users become familiar with the Toolkit

Collaboration with the Database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP) 

PhenX has an ongoing collaboration with dbGaP, the data repository for all genome-wide association studies that NIH sponsors. This collaboration has resulted in the following features: 

  • The PhenX Data Dictionary is formatted for dbGaP data submission, allowing investigators to easily submit PhenX variables
  • The dbGaP advanced search tool includes a PhenX filter so investigators can search dbGaP to identify studies with variables that are identical, comparable or related to PhenX variables

Information and materials about PhenX are posted at or