Working with/in the Information Ecosystem

I first used the phrase “information ecosystem” to describe the biopharma informatics environment at the Pistoia Alliance Annual Face-to-Face board meeting last February. It’s a simple concept that’s widely understood now. There are a host of data sources available today, and a cast of players and tools in isolated environments involved in creating, managing, massaging, delivering, and using them. But to be most effective, this environment must be delivered in an interoperable, hosted, secure manner so that scientists can buy target data from commercial providers mined from the literature, connect to public services, and use the best tools for the task, be they open source, commercial, or proprietary.

While the concept is simple, the environment itself is, by definition, rich and complex. We’ll be exploring this ecosystem and how to maximize its utilization to address the big information challenges in life science R&D at a workshop before the Bio-IT World Conference and Expo Europe on October 10. We invite you to learn more about the workshop and, if you’re interested, to attend.

Even if you can’t attend in person, though, we are interested in your help developing use cases to guide discussion at the workshop. We want to avoid “talk shopping” and ensure that we leave the workshop with a clear sense of a path forward including tangible actions and deliverables. Information ecosystem use cases will provide concrete descriptions of what scientists expect and need from this high changeable environment  help them solve their  problems.

The use cases should address complexities and gaps in the life science information ecosystem that have evolved over the past five to ten years, mostly along three major dimensions:

  1. Translational research: The need to integrate preclinical/molecular and clinical/medical information.  (This dimension often has a significant company-internal component, dominated by culture and policy issues; we ask that any submitted use cases think beyond this scope.)
  2. Externalization of R&D processes: The need for collaborative work, which involves moving and sharing mostly proprietary information across institutional borders.
  3. Availability of large volumes of relevant but distributed public information and data: The need to enable seamlessly integrated analysis of public and proprietary information.

Use cases should be high-level, focusing on WHAT problem needs to be addressed, not HOW to address a particular problem. They should also be concise (one page max), as there will not be time to digest large documents during the workshop.

We’ll use the use cases in two ways. First, they’ll guide the breakout group discussion during the morning session of the workshop and help us develop a common understanding of key features and concepts of an information ecosystem that is useful to solving problems presented in the use cases. They will also help focus the roadmap discussions in the afternoon on activities and project proposals that have practical direct impact on life science R&D.

Send us your ideas; we’ll monitor the comments!

Posted in Pistoia Alliance Blog.

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