It’s been quite quiet on the Pistoia Alliance blog and website since June, but only because instead of taking holidays, we’ve been working hard developing a number of our nascent workstreams (though I did take a day to watch some of the volleyball at the Olympics—saw some very skillful play!).
It’s very pleasing to see that we have potential work coming at us from multiple directions. There are the bottom-up tactical proposals for innovative projects that emerged from our discussions with R&D scientists and informaticians at the Information Ecosystem workshop in Hannover, Germany last October.
In addition to that, the Pistoia Alliance board at February’s face-to-face meeting in London decided to explore and define opportunities related to the ”appification” of software that’s occurring in our personal communications. The board’s aim is to encourage not just the development of useful scientific apps, but also the integration of these apps to facilitate information exchange. The Pistoia Alliance recognizes that if life science R&D apps don’t interoperate and can’t be embedded in workflows, they will silo data just as many of their counterparts on the desktop do. This type of board-led, “top-down” initiative represents an important contribution to the Pistoia Alliance portfolio.
Projects of this type have led to some important partnerships with groups working on projects of critical importance to our member companies. We are now working with the TM Forum to collect the detailed engineering input on the lower- level infrastructure platform underpinning our “applification” effort. And we’ve also reached out to those involved in the EU’s IMI eTRIKS and related tranSMART initiative.
We encourage all Pistoia Alliance members with an interest in these efforts to attend the annual general meeting to learn more. We’re also implementing some major changes to our website to provide more timely updates on all Pistoia activities. In the meantime, here’s a brief synopsis of some of our current projects.
- Pistoia Alliance App Store and Strategy: Create a Pistoia Alliance “App Store” and associated governance to encourage innovation through the creation, storage, intercommunication, and dissemination of “apps” of appropriate quality and utility relevant to life science R&D. An app store is currently running in test mode with a planned launch in September. Collaboration has been established with the TM Forum to work on inter-app communication and integration. Domain lead: Ingrid Akerblom (Merck). Project analyst: Alex Clark (Molecular Materials Informatics)
- Biomarker Exchange Standards: Standardize data and information transfer associated with molecular biomarker assays for translational medicine. The primary focus is on Luminex multiplex assays and in particular on rules-based medicine panels including data transfer methodology, data and information formatting, and terminology. The project is seeking to engage with Myriad RBM.Domain lead: Sandor Szalma (Johnson & Johnson). Project analyst: Bryn Williams-Jones (Connected Discovery)
- Hierarchical Editing Language for Macromolecules (HELM): “Signpost” HELM as the notation of choice for macromolecules and socialize the standard with pharma companies, technology vendors, academia, and commercial information suppliers. Source code is now available and ready to be modified and generalized for public domain use. A paper has also been submitted to the Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling. Once this paper has been published, a HELM communication and adoption program will commence. Domain lead: David Klatte (Pfizer) Project analyst: OPEN
- Controlled Substance Compliance: Establish a high-quality, controlled substance compliance information service that will enable pharma to maintain compliance across geographies. The project leads are currently engaging in active discussion with Pistoia Alliance member companies to determine the specifications of such a service. Domain lead: Rob Lifely (GSK). Project analyst: Ian Johns (Scitegrity)
- Automatic Structure Verification (ASV) from NMR Spectra: Create a publicly available collection of curated NMR/structure data with wide chemical diversity that will enable ASV software vendors to create more robust algorithms can enable pharma companies to qualify the accuracy of the ASV software. Further discussion of this topic will occur at the SMASH 2012 NMR Conference this September. Domain lead: John Hollerton (GSK). Project analyst: OPEN