Being SMART in the cloud

The tranSMART Foundation and BT collaborate on life-science cloud applications for translational research initiatives

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WAKEFIELD, Mass.—The tranSMART Foundation, a non-profit organization providing a global, open-source knowledge management platform for scientists to share pre-competitive translational research data, and British Telecommunications PLC (BT) recently announced a joint initiative to unlock the vast potential of cloud computing for scientists. The tranSMART platform will be offered on the BT for Life Sciences cloud service to scientists in research hospitals, academic research institutions and life-science research organizations globally, as well as third-party organizations.
“BT shares our foundation’s objectives to advance promising therapies quickly through the drug discovery and development process,” said Dr. Brian Athey, co-CEO of the tranSMART Foundation. “As a leader in the communications industry, BT brings state-of-the-art, cloud-based hosting technology to the life-science community on a worldwide basis, enabling companies to comply with stringent industry-specific regulations. This is the first of many strategic relationships the foundation will be forming to optimize our community’s data-sharing solution and to advance translational medicine research.”
Keith Elliston, tranSMART’s chief science officer, describes how the non-profit is organized, saying, “We have three operating groups. We think of them as the three C’s—code, community and content. Members participate at the level of the three C’s depending on the membership participation they select. Gold members have a seat on all three committees, silver on two and bronze on one.” The cost? A $100,000 minimum for gold; $50,000 for silver and from $5,000 to $20,000 for bronze.
“We kicked off the program in October and 10 companies have already committed. Members are engaged and enthusiastic. At the recent meeting hosted by Sanofi in Paris, we had more than 100 members attending. In workshops we call ‘hack-a-thons,’ members gathered in the same room to write open-source code, participating in an in-kind way.”
“Teaming with the tranSMART Foundation is an important milestone for our life-science ecosystem,” said Bas Burger, president of U.S. & Canada and Global Industry Verticals, BT Global Services. “The tranSMART Foundation is a great example of an organization that can help us to achieve our vision of contributing to a significant acceleration of the pace of drug discovery and development.”
The tranSMART Foundation recently announced version 1.1 of the tranSMART open source data sharing and analysis platform, which is focused on increasing productivity and efficiency of R&D initiatives. This cloud-based solution enables the effective sharing, integration, standardization and analysis of heterogeneous data from collaborative translational research by mobilizing the tranSMART open-source and open-data community.
“BT will host a publicly accessible demonstration of tranSMART version 1.1 at no cost to the translational research community. This demonstration site will provide a rich data environment for exploring the capabilities of the tranSMART platform. For a fee, BT will also provide a straightforward ‘click-to-deploy’ service for organizations that choose to partner with cloud providers for infrastructure services,” explained the foundation’s co-CEO, Dr. Michael Braxenthaler. “Through key relationships with industry leaders like BT, we will be able to further enhance our platform to accelerate pharmaceutical and biotechnology research.”
BT for Life Sciences was developed as a secure and segregated platform, using BT Cloud Compute. It allows scientists to construct and orchestrate in-silico workflows and data pipelines so that new pharmaceutical targets and drug candidates can be identified. This platform enables research scientists to create global project groups and collaborate using social media tools. This ecosystem allows them to securely upload documents, share results and communicate via instant message, voice, video or chat. They can also analyze results in an environment that segments data and uses qualified hardware components and workflows specific to the pharmaceutical industry.
BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and Internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach.
The tranSMART Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides an open-source, cloud-based, data-sharing and analysis platform that enables scientists at universities, disease foundations, pharmaceutical companies and government agencies around the world to share pre-competitive data in a way that saves money and time in translating research findings into new therapies and diagnostic tools. Founded to steward the tranSMART platform, the foundation is headquartered in Wakefield, Mass., with centers of excellence in London, Amsterdam, Boston and Ann Arbor, Mich.

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