The PRISM Forum has an international membership of senior life science informaticians drawn from a number of biopharmaceutical organizations. The Forum meets twice a year, once in Europe and once in the USA, to exchange precompetitive information and to consider the application of emerging IT technologies within the biopharmaceutical research process.

Marty Tenenbaum, chairman and founder of CommerceNet and chairman and chief scientist of CollabRx (a CommerceNet Portfolio company), gave the keynote address at the PRISM special interest group on open innovation. His presentation focused on the structural problems in the existing drug development process and how open innovation and Health Commons can minimize them–making it affordable to develop treatments for rare and orphan diseases.


Imagine a virtual marketplace or ecosystem where participants share data, knowledge, materials, and services to accelerate research. This Health Commons is a bold vision whose aim is no less than to change the processes, economics, and culture of translating basic research into drugs.

25+ million patients and their families suffer from over 6,000 orphan diseases that are currently uneconomical to address. The time is ripe for a radically different approach that leverages collaboration and the Internet to enable small teams of researchers to develop new therapies in a cost-effective manner and get them to patients quickly.

Virtual biotechs, using innovative research and clinical and business strategies, will exploit the Commons to slash the time and costs associated with drug development. As a result, a small group of patients with a rare disease can fund the development of new therapy in time to save their own lives. In the age of genomic sub-typing and personalized medicine–where every disease is potentially an orphan disease–the implications are far-reaching.

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