September 21, 2008

Breaking Down Barriers to Collaboration–The Health Commons Initiative

Health Care By: ams

John Willbanks, VP of Science at Creative Commons, will be talking about the Health Commons initiative at the upcoming InnovationWell Community of Practice InterAction Meeting on October 14 – 17, 2008 in Philadelphia. Health Commons is collaboration between CommerceNet, Science Commons, and the Public Library of Science to transform drug discovery. 

Abstract: Breaking Down Barriers to Collaboration–The Health Commons Initiative Imagine a virtual marketplace or ecosystem where participants share data, knowledge, materials and services to accelerate research. The components might include databases on the results of chemical assays, toxicity screens, and clinical trials; libraries of drugs and chemical compounds; repositories of biological materials (tissue samples, cell lines, molecules), computational models predicting drug efficacies or side effects, and contract services for high-throughput genomics and proteomics, combinatorial drug screening, animal testing, biostatistics, and more. The resources offered through the Commons might not necessarily be free, though many could be. However, all would be available under standard pre-negotiated terms and conditions and with standardized data formats that eliminate the debilitating delays, legal wrangling and technical incompatibilities that frustrate scientific collaboration today. 

We envision a Commons where a researcher will be able to order everything needed to replicate a published experiment as easily as ordering DVDs from Amazon. A Commons where one can create a workflow to exploit replicated results on an industrial scale–searching the world’s biological repositories for relevant materials; routing them to the best labs for molecular profiling; forwarding the data to a team of bioinfomaticians for collaborative analysis of potential drug targets; and finally hiring top service providers to run drug screens against those targets; with everything–knowledge, data, and materials–moving smoothly from one provider to the next, monitored and tracked with Fed-Ex precision; where the workflow scripts themselves can become part of the Commons, for others to reuse and improve. Health Commons’ marketplace will slash the time, cost, and risk of developing treatments for diseases. Individual researchers, institutions, and companies will be able to publish information about their expertise and resources so that others in the community can readily discover and use them. Core competencies, from clinical trial design to molecular profiling, will be packaged as turnkey services and made available over the Net. The Commons will serve as the public-domain, non-profit hub, with third-parties providing value added services that facilitate information access, communication, and collaboration. 

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