Special Report: 2004: A Best Practices Odyssey

By John Russell, Executive Editor

August 18, 2004 | In the film "2001: A Space Odyssey," an ancestral hunter, after a victorious kill, hurls his "newly acquired" bone club into the sky, where it hangs for a moment before transforming into a spinning space station and space shuttle locked in a precise docking dance to the slow pulse of Johann Strauss' "The Blue Danube." Director Stanley Kubrick managed to capture the human journey from cave to space with the simple, unforgettable image of a tumbling bone, suggestive of every tool and technology developed thereafter.

Bio·IT World's Best Practices Awards program also hopes to capture the imagination and effectiveness of advancing technology being used to drive biomedical advances. In addition to being memorable, our goal is to foster wider awareness and adoption of these powerful tools, and to build the importance of Bio·IT World's Best Practices program steadily over time. This too is an odyssey.

In this, the program's second year, there were 34 entries spanning a wide range of technologies and projects. The competition produced Grand Winners in five categories - drug discovery; IT and informatics; clinical trials and research; regulatory compliance; and knowledge management and collaboration. Technologies showcased ranged from cutting-edge in silico methods to identify biomarkers for insulin sensitivity in "virtual patients" to a painstaking "mud chemistry" and informatics project consisting of 13,000 microarray experiments to identify predictive toxicity signatures.

Bio·IT World Best Practices Awards 2004
Bio•IT World’s Best Practices Awards program hopes to capture the imagination and effectiveness of advancing technology being used to drive biomedical advances.
· A Best Practices Odyssey 
By John Russell
· Francis Collins Receives President’s Award
By Kevin Davies
· Keynote Speakers Chide Industry Leaders
By Anthony Strattner
· The Technology Providers That Enable Best Practices
Grand Winners
· Curbing a Killer
Drug Discovery and Development — Iconix Pharmaceuticals
· Tracking Better Lab Operations
IT Infrastructure and Informatics — Baylor College of Medicine
· Interactive Decision Making
Knowledge Management and Collaboration — SurroMed
· The Pursuit of Process
Regulatory Compliance — Endo Pharmaceuticals
· I, Virtual Patient
Clinical Research and Trials — Roche Diagnostics
· Project Summaries of All Entries

Judging was conducted by a distinguished panel of outside experts drawn from industry and academia. They have our sincere thanks. The editors of Bio·IT World issued three Honorable Recognition awards to projects deemed to have special merit (see The Russell Transcript, page 62). From start to finish, the 2004 Best Practices odyssey began with solicitation of entries last January and wound up with a gala dinner and awards ceremony on June 15 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Not a bad venue.

Guest speakers included Sylva Collins, recently appointed global head of advanced clinical systems, Novartis; and Carl Peck, founding director of the Center for Drug Development Science at Georgetown University, and former director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA. Finally, Bio·IT World president and publisher, Alan Bergstein, presented the second annual President's Award to Francis Collins for his influential work as head of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

By any measure, 2004 was a good second year for Bio·IT World's Best Practices program. Despite the community's obsession with secrecy and everyone's shortage of "spare time," dozens of organizations were willing to share their experiences in harnessing technology to drive biomedical research. They have our sincere thanks, and so do the Best Practices program sponsors: IBM, Equilibria, Target Health, TurboWorx, and eTrials. Without their help, the program wouldn't be possible.

Profiles of the winning entries and a summary of all entries are contained in this report. So, without further ado, the winners are ...


  • Drug Discovery & Development: Iconix Pharmaceuticals
  • IT Infrastructure & Informatics: Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology Core Lab
  • Knowledge Management & Collaboration: SurroMed
  • Regulatory Compliance: Endo Pharmaceuticals
  • Clinical Research & Trials: Roche Diagnostics



  • Best Application of New Technology: Laboratoire Kastler Brossel, France
  • Best Platform: Locus Pharmaceuticals
  • Best Informatics Application: Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago



NEXT YEAR: Start honing your success stories now, because the deadline for Best Practices Awards 2005 is Feb. 15. Entry fees will be waived for those who meet the early-bird deadline of Jan. 15. Contact John Russell with any questions:

To judge the Best Practices entries, Bio·IT World editors were joined by a distinguished panel of experts, including:

  • Sylva Collins, global head of advanced clinical systems, Novartis
  • Stephen Fogelson, director, clinical research, Clinquest
  • Jim Golden, vice president, research, Life Science Insights
  • Jim Hall, president, Life Sciences Group, Wood Mackenzie
  • Stan Kachnowski, professor of health IT management, Mailman School of Public Health
  • Rudy Potenzone, senior vice president of business development and strategic planning, Ingenuity Systems
  • Christian Reich, associate director, Millennium Pharmaceuticals
  • Jerry Schindler, vice president, biostats and clinical information systems, Wyeth Research
  • Bill Van Etten, founding partner and principal investigator, The BioTeam
  • Ronald Waif, president, Waif & Associates

Best Practices photo by Photographics

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