Erasmus University Medical Center and Spotfire announce multi-year relationship to better understand molecular processes underlying disease

Rotterdam 25 October 2005The Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands has announced a 3-year relationship with Spotfire, a market expert in visual analytics for business decision-making. The project is headed by the bioinformatics department unit of Erasmus MC under the leadership of Professor Dr. Peter Van der Spek.


According to Professor Dr. Van der Spek, "Spotfire visual analytics software enables scientists to integrate complex molecular and clinical data and gain insight in molecular processes underlying disease." By using Spotfire visual analytics, researchers at Erasmus MC hope to better understand the behaviour of biomarkers to monitor progression of disease and to optimize intervention strategies.

Bioinformatics is a new discipline within Erasmus MC that combines informatics and mathematics with life sciences data in a hospital environment. This discipline is closely related to genomics, where genome information is researched studying the functioning of the organism and biological processes. This requires an enormous capacity to process and analyse huge amounts of data and information. Bioinformatics provides the knowledge, applications and analytical tools to handle genomics data, critical to attain results in research diagnostics and clinical trial decision making.

As part of the co-operation, Spotfire DecisionSite business analytics software will be available to academic researchers and students at Erasmus MC. The areas of co-operation include development of tools and "guided analytic applications" in the research areas of biomarkers, pathway visualizations, bioinformatics, and integration with other widely used data sources, such as ENSEMBL from the EBI in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

The co-operation also involves an education programme to teach scientists how to gain more insight into complex, scientific problems by applying advanced visualizations. Furthermore, Spotfire and Erasmus MC will investigate the deployment of visualization methods in clinical research and diagnostics, especially where visual analytics can be used for personalized treatment of patients.

According to Christopher Ahlberg, Spotfire's CEO: "This initiative with Erasmus MC will embed new technologies, such as micro-array profiles and enhanced visualization, as corner-stone elements in patient diagnostics and treatment in the hospital. Guided analytic applications will help the medical staff establish best practices to diagnose and treat patients in all units of the hospital more effectively."

The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of Erasmus University Rotterdam and the University Hospital Rotterdam have joined forces to form Erasmus MC. The largest centre of its kind in The Netherlands, Erasmus MC provides advanced medical care to three million people living in the south-western part of The Netherlands. Care is organized in three clinical branches: the General Hospital; the Sophia Children's Hospital; and the Daniel den Hoed Oncology Center.

Erasmus MC has achieved excellence in many areas, including cardiovascular diseases, oncology, paediatrics, cell biology and clinical genetics, human reproduction, endocrinology, microbiology, virology, immunology, haepatology and (micro-)surgery. Erasmus MC is among the top research institutes in The Netherlands and participates in several nationally and internationally recognized research schools. Research activities range from fundamental biomedical research, patient-related research and epidemiology to public health, health care policy and management. Erasmus MC offers basic medical education, followed by specialization tracks to become a general practitioner or a medical specialist. In addition, Erasmus MC offers Master of Science programmes, postgraduate courses and researcher training courses.

In collaboration with other departments Professor Dr. van der Spek's multi-disciplinary bioinformatics department supports projects that generate genomics and proteomics data from basic research, forensics studies, molecular diagnostics and clinical trials. Professor Dr. Van der Spek also runs a research programme of his own which provides the biological and technological basis of all the other activities. It concentrates on the way the genome as a whole contributes to the evolution, development, structure and function of the brain. Among others it involves analysis of gene expression in cells of the brain and combines genomics, proteomics and cytogenetic data to identify genes associated with neurological disorders.

Spotfire Inc. provides interactive, visual data analytics applications and services that empower enterprises and their end-users to improve operational performance and gain an information advantage over the competition. Over 25.000 users in close to 1000 organisations around the world use Spotfire DecisionSite to drive confident decision-making by quickly and easily spotting trends, outliers and unanticipated relationships in critical business data. The company maintains United States headquarters in Somerville, Massachusetts, and European headquarters in Gøteborg, Sweden.

Leslie Versweyveld

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