By the beginning of 2012, IMI had launched 30 projects, many of which involve the integration and analysis of diverse types of biological and medical data from a range of sources. This approach helps to speed up and improve drug discovery by allowing researchers to uncover new insights into disease progression and drug safety and efficacy for example. However, merging and managing all this data is far from easy. IMI’s first Strategic Research Agenda highlighted the need for a common knowledge management platform for IMI projects, but until now this has not been set up.
As a result, each project has had to invest in its own knowledge management system, resulting in considerable duplication of efforts and raising the risk that data will be lost when the project ends. Furthermore, to date there has been no agreed knowledge platform technology that could be used to build such a common service.
eTRIKS aims to deliver an open, sustainable translational research informatics / knowledge management platform based on agreed standards. The starting point of the project will be tranSMART, an open source platform that is already being applied successfully in IMI’s severe asthma project U-BIOPRED. The eTRIKS team will provide a suite of support services covering the whole translational research project life cycle, including business analysis, platform development, curation and hosting support, standards development, and ethics consultation.
By creating a single, open source platform that meets industry needs while remaining affordable for public partners, eTRIKS will deliver considerable cost savings for public private partnerships that use it. Furthermore, by ensuring the consistent implementation of format and content standards, eTRIKS will facilitate the reuse of data (with appropriate governance) to study new issues and speed up the development of new drugs for patients.
In the longer term, the project plans to develop a business model that will allow the platform to continue to operate after the initial IMI funding period. The partners also hope that their work will result in the formation of an active international translational research analytics and informatics community.