Bio-IT 2017 – Data Security, Data Sharing, Data Access, Data Integration, Data …

 

The 15th annual Bio-IT conference – with the theme “Building a global network for precision medicine by uniting the Bio-IT community” – clearly had as its underlying theme the many different aspects of data that need to be addressed to make precision medicine a true reality, as echoed throughout the many talks and discussions. This was reflected in both the keynotes, as well as the panel discussions that focused on data regulations, security, and getting patients to feel good about sharing their data. The first hackathon launched by Bio-IT World had the focus on FAIR [findable, accessible, interoperable, and reproducible] data. Many commercial announcements or recent advancements in artificial intelligence revolved around new and improved data analysis solutions. This year’s Best in Show award selections featured Starfish Storage’s Starfish V4, SciBite LaunchPad, SolveBio’s Operating System for Molecular Information, Dana Farber Cancer Institute / The Hyve’s MatchMiner v1.0, and Seven Bridges’ CAVATICA.

Coinciding with Bio-IT were a number of major announcements as listed below:

Benjamin Franklin Award

  • This year’s Benjamin Franklin Award – an award presented annually by bioinformatics.org to an individual who has, in her or his practice, promoted free and open access to the materials and methods used in the life sciences – was awarded to Rafael Irizarry, Professor of Biostatistics at Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who has dedicated his career to developing statistical methods and open source software for helping researchers analyze genomics data.

Best Practices Award

  • As every year the commercial sector is actively following the Best Practices awards leading up to this event (check out the pre-conference finalists). This year’s Best Practices award winners included the Maccabi Healthcare System “Clinical IT & Precision Medicine” for the implementation of an advanced AI and machine learning algorithms to identify high-risk, under-the-radar patients, Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine in “Informatics” for improved and expedited precision medicine for newborns by 26-hour whole genome sequencing, Allotrope Foundation in “Knowledge Management” for developing a holistic set of capabilities to improve data access, interoperability, and integrity through standardization, and the Earlham Institute in “IT infrastructure/HPC” by applying high-performance computing to improve global food security, Biomedical Imaging Research Services Section (BIRSS) as the Judges’ Choice Award, and last but not least Alexion Pharmaceuticals as the Editors’ Choice Award.

Best of Show Award

Data management and analysis

Data interpretation

Informed drug discovery

Miscellaneous

Funding

 

This year’s Bio-IT 2016 With Clinical Genetics as the Frontrunner

BioITimage

This year’s Bio-IT conference – with theme Big Data – was clearly marked by the presence of clinical genetics: its data sharing, analysis, and interpretation challenges echoed throughout the many talks (and exhibit) whether it was Heidi Rhem’s opening plenary session or George Church’s genomics breakfast session, demonstrating that routine sequencing is within reach. Undoubtedly, there have been great developments in the software space in the past years, but scaling for massive genomics data still requires work! Interestingly, overlapping with Bio-IT 2016, the 13th International Congress of Human Genetics held in Kyoto further exemplified what was communicated Continue reading

At AGBT 2016, the Winners Are Long Reads and Whole Solutions

AGBT_logo_RGBThis year’s pilgrimage of geneticist, genomics scientists, and along with that commercial companies was to the JW Marriott in Orlando and not as usual to Marco Island – however, we were assured that the next two AGBT events are already confirmed to be held on Marco Island again. The Orlando Marriott setting seemed fine; nothing beats the Marco island environment with its beach setting which is well worth the extra hour bus ride from the airport to take you there. Having said this, the setting appeared to be more favorable for the vendors in particular, given the more open arrangement of large suites inviting easy access and interactions with conference attendees. Continue reading

The JP Morgan Healthcare Conference from Afar

This being an invitation-only conference, I had to follow the JP Morgan Healthcare conference from a distance. As we have witnessed in the past, exciting announcements happen here in San Francisco around or just before this annual conference and some of the news spark what eventually will become the big trends throughout the year. One could say it is a window to what is just around the corner in 2016.

#jpm

Obviously, Illumina made quite the splash with two separate announcements: (1) launch of the new company Grail – major co-investors include Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and others – focusing on pre-symptomatic cancer testing based on the hot liquid biopsy-based Continue reading

AHSG 2015 Roundup – Big Data, Heritability, Epigenetics, Enhancers, and Patients as Partners

ASHG-2015-meeting-logoThe ASHG conference in Baltimore was accompanied by some broadly discussed highlights which are reflected in how the media and the social networks embraced it. It was nice to see that the coverage spanned not just commercial launches, but also included research highlights and other general announcements.

Before summarizing the different announcements, I want to state how exciting it was hearing Dr. Francis Collins (Director of NIH) talking about his vision of the new Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) and the many opportunities it presents to advance its clinical application by creating a cohort of a million individuals. In his presentation, he was asking for a new rule of participants in health studies. In the same go he thanked the Henrietta Lacks family, which was present in the audience, for all they did to further science – the Henrietta Lacks’ descendants now serve as advisers to the NIH.

Another highlight of the conference was the first “Art and Science of Science Communication” session put in place by Chris Gunter, this year’s program Chair. The invited panel consisted of Ed Yong, staff scientist at The Atlantic and author of the blog “Not Exactly Rocket Science”, Liz Neeley, executive director of The Story Collider, and Andrea Downing, author of the blog Brave Bosom and creator of an online community Continue reading

At Bio-IT 2015 Big Data via Integration Platforms for Data Analysis, Patient Monitoring, and Collaboration

Bio-IT2015_image2

Last week’s Bio-IT World Conference and Expo in Boston was attended by more than 3,000 scientists, members of the pharmaceutical industry, and subject matter experts to discuss latest requirements in data analysis, management, and storage, and in the context of all of that, cloud computing and data integration.

For me the conference started out with an excellent keynote session by Chris Sander from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center discussing on how to deliver Precision Medicine in cancer while touching upon the fantastic insights into the molecular diversity of tumors as provided in the Cancer Genome Atlas. He finished up with describing the cBioPortal which organizes data for over 20,000 tumor samples from 89 cancer studies. Following Continue reading

At ASHG 2014 genomics was everywhere, with big data and variant analysis/interpretation

AHSG Last week the annual gathering of human geneticists happened at the convention center in sunny San Diego. This year this engaging conference was dominated by genomics, and in particular the topics of big data, variant analysis and interpretation. This emphasis was clearly reflected in the scientific talks, but also in the commercial sector with many companies focusing on providing new solutions on variant analysis, reaching even into the clinical space.

Besides the scientific and commercial aspect of ASHG, which I will summarize later in this blog post, this year the conferences had a strong human side associated with it. For the first time two movies were presented – Genetics in Motion Movies – that were engaging and spot on considering recent news and announcements about the benefits and/or conflicts of knowing and understanding genetic diseases. The first movie [Twitch with Kristen Powers] explored the impact of genetic testing on a young person whose mother had Huntington’s disease. While the movie follows Kristen Powers as she undergoes testing for the disease, it also examines the basic science of the disease itself. The second movie [On Beauty with Rick Guidotti] nicely addresses the need of first recognizing the person before the disease. Rick Guidotti achieves this phenomenally by capturing the beauty of an individual person and not focusing primarily on the disease – his pictures are indeed amazing. Of special interest in this context is

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