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Summer Heat


By Kevin Davies

August 2, 2011 | First Base | Each year around this time, we like to showcase the winning entries in our annual Best Practices Awards competition, which has been held nearly every year since 2003. We invite a diverse group of judges to evaluate and rank dozens of entries from academia and industry highlighting best practices impacting data management in life sciences, however that might be defined.

Our winners for 2011 were announced at the Bio-IT World Expo back in April. Our six winners—CliniWorks’ AccelFind, Collaborative Drug Discovery’s TB Database, GlaxoSmithKline’s delightfully named “Helium in Excel” (nominated by Ceiba Solutions); Merck’s Clinical Enrollment Optimization (nominated by DecisionView); Novartis’ ImagEDC solution; and Oxford Nanopore’s work with Accelrys on the Pipeline Pilot NGS Collection—are discussed elsewhere in this issue (see pages 31-38).

It’s not feasible to pay tribute to every entry, but a few should be noted for making the judges’ task particularly difficult this year. The strongest of the four main categories this year was Knowledge Management. Andrew Su (Scripps Institute, formerly at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, San Diego), submitted the Gene Wiki, a true collaborative project attracting 4 million views/month to help annotate and disseminate genome data. Another highly praised entry was Pfizer’s Oyster Imaging Collaborative Portal, designed in partnership with Radiant Sage Ventures, which has significantly improved image sharing and data access.

In the IT Infrastructure category, judges also liked the UCLA Neuroimaging Lab’s unified storage infrastructure project, nominated by data storage vendor Isilon. Partnering with Accelrys, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine presented a high-throughput parasite imaging tool, while the Smithsonian Institution offered a LIMS tool for the Moorea Biocode project, providing barcode sequencing for 40,000 tropical species.

Oxford Nanopore’s win in the Research and Discovery category is somewhat ironic, given how stealthy the British sequencing company has been. The Brits edged out some tough competition, including the Food and Drug Administration’s drug toxicity tool for animal testing, which one judge deemed “a dramatic step forward.” Many other entries would have competed strongly for top honors if they had featured more real-world deployments and collaborations.

We’ll be announcing further details on the scope and timing of the 2012 Best Practices Awards shortly.

An Asian Engagement

Following our successful foray into Europe in 2009, we are thrilled to announce that we will be holding our first full Bio-IT World conference in Asia next summer (June 5-8, 2012). We’ve selected Singapore as the destination, and the spectacular 57-floor Marina Bay Sands convention center (and casino) as the venue. (I’m still trying to persuade my colleagues to convene one of the pre-conference workshops in the rooftop Infinity pool. We’ll see...)

The move to Asia isn’t just a reflection of the gratifying growth in attendees, exhibitors and sponsors at our flagship conference in Boston and the European event. From talented software start-ups in India to the emerging power of BGI in China (see page 8), the Asian region is having an unprecedented impact on life sciences and biopharma, and is ripe with opportunities for partnerships and collaboration. We’ve been hearing from many regular attendees at Bio-IT World Expo how much they would like to reach the Asian scientific community under the right conditions. We intend to provide that forum for genuine technological and scientific exchange.

We have put together a very impressive advisory board and we are now accepting speaker proposals at our website: www.bio-itworldasia.com. We welcome your input and contributions. In the meantime, we hope you’ll make plans to join us at Bio-IT World Europe this October (www.bio-itworldeurope.com).

This article also appeared in the 2011 July-August issue of Bio-IT World.

 

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