IMI at ESOF2020

Start Date 04/09/2020

IMI held an online session entitled ‘Virtual patient cohorts: breaking the data deadlock’ at ESOF2020 on Friday 4 September.

About the session

Data is the key to unlocking unparalleled medical revolutions, and yet also a major roadblock for translational research. Patient data is difficult to access, and even more difficult to use. Data silos and lack of interoperability hinder the use of data in collaborative research.

While researchers need real-world evidence to support their findings in controlled studies, the legal safeguards of the General Data Protection Regulation have added further data processing obligations to the already lengthy compliance burden.

How can we respond to the challenge of using sensitive patient data to support science, without compromising their privacy? What if we could create artificial, as-good-as-real data sets, and integrate different data sources for risk-free research?

Scientists have proven that it is possible to build a fully functioning virtual patient cohort. We will soon see the simulation of entire trials with a virtual dementia cohort. Next is to foster international efforts to build an open, global cohort of virtual patients to be used by researchers, students and practitioners alike.

Are we ready for it? This session discussed the tremendous progress made by data scientists in this field, and explored the scope for virtual patient applications.

Watch the recording of the session


Speakers and presentations

  • Elisabetta Vaudano
    Principal Scientific Manager, Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) (moderator)
  • Graciela Muniz Terrera
    Senior Lecturer in Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh; participant in IMI’s EPAD project
  • Martin Hofmann-Apitius
    Head of Business Area Bioinformatics, Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing SCAI; coordinator of IMI’s AETIONOMY project
  • Holger Fröhlich
    Head of AI & Data Science Group; Deputy Head of Department of Bioinformatics, Fraunhofer; Professor at University of Bonn; previously, Head of Data Science Enablement, UCB; participant in IMI's RADAR-AD project

About ESOF

The EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) is a biennial, pan-European, general science conference that aims to deliver stimulating content and lively debate around the latest advancements and discoveries in the sciences, humanities and social sciences.

It usually brings together over 4 500 leading thinkers, innovators, policy makers, journalists and educators from more than 90 countries, to discuss current and future breakthroughs in contemporary science.

ESOF 2020 was a hybrid event, with physical events in Trieste, Italy, and virtual events (including our session) online.