ScienceCloud and ELF Win Bio-IT World Best Practices Award


By Guillaume Paillard
Senior Scientist & ELF Project Team Leader, Dassault Systèmes BIOVIA

May 7, 2015

A year ago, Matt Hahn was proud and excited to announce the launch of ScienceCloud. He anticipated that it would be a game changer in addressing today’s life science industry challenges. I was also excited because I knew ScienceCloud would be the cornerstone of the information system for a large and ambitious European collaboration project. A year later, Matt’s vision and my excitement have both been fulfilled. BIOVIA ScienceCloud, as used by the European Lead Factory (ELF) project, has been awarded the prestigious BioIT World Best Practices Award for Knowledge Management.

 The ELF is a pan-European drug discovery consortium consisting of seven pharmaceutical companies and thirteen academic organizations. Supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), the goal of the project is to facilitate the collaborative high-throughput screening of previously safeguarded, high quality corporate small molecule compounds against novel biological targets to advance medical research and develop new medicines. The seven pharmas are contributing at least 300,000 compounds from their own chemical libraries. An estimated additional 200,000 novel compounds are being developed by participating academic institutions and small/medium sized enterprises. To date, the ELF has announced the synthesis of 50,000 new, high quality compounds based on public proposals, all of which have been added to the Joint European Compound Library (JECL). 

This successful, open innovation model would not have been possible without first tackling a major research challenge. How do you give external researchers access to screening compounds that are normally locked behind company firewalls, while also assuring the compound owners that their intellectual property (IP) is secure? The ELF addressed this challenge by implementing the BIOVIA ScienceCloud information management and collaboration workspace, which the Bio-IT World judges have appraised to be “the only platform in its class.”

The Honest Data Broker (HDB) application that was built on ScienceCloud provides a unique IP model with fine-grained permissions and access to all chemistry and biology project data. While all members share access to this common data source, biological data is restricted to the target owner and chemical structures are generally not disclosed. Instead, early stages of decision-making use derivative data from the compounds. Once the compound list has been reduced to a few hundred molecules, structures are revealed to certain team members for follow up studies and further triaging to the Qualified Hit List. 

Other ScienceCloud apps provide a project data and documents repository; an electronic lab notebook for capturing, accessing and sharing experimental information; interactive visualization/analysis and scientific authoring capabilities; and a unique social portal for progress reporting and team discussions.

The system is scalable (able to support 20 organizations, over 500,000 compounds and many millions of assay results) and rapidly and easily deployed with minimal organizational impact.

Leveraging BIOVIA ScienceCloud in the ELF Project is a great example of facilitating collaboration while protecting the information that is critical to collaborators’ competitiveness. The Netherlands Cancer Institute is one of many beneficiaries of this joint project between BIOVIA and the ELF. They have stated that access to the ELF has fast-forwarded their oncology drug discovery work “by several years.”

The project is also a great example of science moving to a hosted platform. Is this a trend you see in your industry?

Ton van Daelen, ScienceCloud Product Director, receives the award on behalf of the ELF