"Pharmaceutical companies are moving away from the fortress mentality, which has been prevalent for many years, towards an ecosystem of companies working together without geographical or technical boundaries", stated Rob Gill, Head of Biology Domain Architecture at GSK. "SIMDAT has enabled us to test out all the components we need to support the virtual outsourcing of data analysis in a secure environment. The combination of NEC internet security models, InforSense work flows, GRIA service-oriented infrastructure and data analysis services from BioFocus DPI and Université Libre de Bruxelles has shown how virtual organisations can become a reality."
In addition to GSK, project partners included NEC Europe Ltd, BioFocus DPI, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Université Libre de Bruxelles, IT Innovation and Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing (SCAI).
The project at GSK involved setting up a secure Grid enabled environment to support the electronic outsourcing of data analysis and annotation of biological data to third parties - thus enabling virtual outsourcing. The system, which is built using InforSense work flows, runs across a test-bed comprising five different remote sites and incorporates data services from two external companies.
This demonstrates how a once fully internal system of analytical tools and databases for sequence analysis, annotation and "Drugability" can now be distributed across a number of organisations. The project delivers a more collaborative approach to drug discovery, bringing increased flexibility and efficiency to the process, while still ensuring the data exchange is secure and controlled.
"We are seeing a growing interest in tools and software to support the technical and business process aspects of virtual organisations", stated Moustafa Ghanem, Director of Research, InforSense. "Companies such as GSK are looking at outsourcing many aspects of their business and InforSense is providing them the infrastructure to do so."
GSK is a research-based pharmaceutical and health care company and is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. Fraunhofer SCAI conducts research in the field of computer simulations for product and process development, designs and optimizes industrial applications, and offers calculations on high-performance computers. The Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, umbrella organisation of SCAI, undertakes applied research of direct use to private and public enterprise.
The European Molecular Biology Laboratory is a basic research institute funded by public research monies from 20 member states. Research at EMBL is conducted by approximately 80 independent groups covering the spectrum of molecular biology. The Laboratory has five units: the main Laboratory in Heidelberg, and Outstations in Hinxton - the European Bioinformatics Institute, Grenoble, Hamburg, and Monterotondo near Rome.
The cornerstones of EMBL's mission are: to perform basic research in molecular biology; to train scientists, students and visitors at all levels; to offer vital services to scientists in the member states; to develop new instruments and methods in the life sciences and to actively engage in technology transfer activities. EMBL's International PhD Programme has a student body of about 170. The Laboratory also sponsors an active Science and Society programme.
The Bioinformatics Laboratory of the Université Libre de Bruxelles is committed to providing bioinformatics trainings and IT infrastructure to support the research in Molecular Biology/Medicine. The Bioinformatics lab is also involved in several informatics developments dedicated, in particular, to ease the access of distributed resources by the end-users. To strengthen scientific collaborations, the bioinformatics laboratory is a member of the European Molecular Biology network (EMBnet).
NEC Laboratories Europe's IT Research Division (NLE-IT) in St. Augustin, Germany, focuses on the area of Parallel and Distributed Computing, including Grid Technologies and High Performance Computing (HPC) software technologies and applications. Current Grid activities address future enterprise service infrastructures and integrated security solutions. NLE-IT develops technology to enable Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)-based business processes, such as enterprise applications, to be created, managed and deployed on demand. Strategic research areas for implementing the vision of a global service economy include: next-generation SOA for cross-enterprise collaboration and eCommerce, future SOA runtime systems, Service Level Agreement (SLA) lifecycle management, service quality assurance, virtualization, and semantic technologies.
IT Innovation is an international expert in research in distributed systems including service oriented and Grid technologies, with deep experience of information and content management, business processes and work flow, semantics and security. IT Innovation develops and distributes the GRIA infrastructure helping business to exploit the potential of Internet alliances.
BioFocus DPI aims to expand its partners' drug pipelines by accelerating the gene-to-candidate discovery process. This is achieved through a comprehensive discovery platform, which includes target discovery in human primary cells, focused as well as diverse compound libraries, in vitro and cell-based screening, structural biology, medicinal chemistry and ADME/PK services, supported by unique chemo-genomic and informatics tools. As the service division of Galapagos, BioFocus DPI has over 300 employees in four countries worldwide.
InforSense goes beyond traditional business intelligence to provide a completely integrated suite of agile, visual and predictive intelligence solutions, enabling organisations to gain business and scientific insights and optimize their business-critical decision-making processes. Leading pharmaceutical, biotechnology, consumer goods, health care, financial services, manufacturing and communications companies around the world rely on InforSense to quickly, easily deliver intelligence and identify trends in data. The company is privately held, with European headquarters in London, United Kingdom, and North American headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. More company news can be found in the VMW October 2005 article InforSense and United States National Cancer Institute enter five-year agreement.
SIMDAT has received research funding of the European Commission under the Information Society Technologies Programme (IST), contract number IST-2004-511438. The maximum Community contribution to the project is 11 million euro. The project started on 1 September 2004. Its duration is 48 months and there are 27 partners involved. The project is co-ordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute SCAI in Sankt Augustin, Germany. More information about SIMDAT is available in the VMW October 2008 article Novel drug discovery leverages SIMDAT Grid technology.