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Medical data represent tremendous amount of data for which automatic analysis is increasingly needed. Grids are very promising to face today's challenging health issues such as epidemiological studies through large image data sets. However, the sensitive nature of medical data makes it difficult to widely distribute medical applications over computational grids. In this paper, we review fundamental medical data manipulation requirements and we propose a distributed data management architecture that addresses the medical data security and high performance constraints. A prototype is currently being developed inside our laboratories to demonstrate the architecture capability to face realistic distributed medical data manipulation situations.