Scientific experts from 11 institutions are collaborating to assess the feasibility of developing NCATS’ Biomedical Data Translator (Translator). The goal is to identify and design innovative tools to integrate and leverage the vast amounts of medical research data currently available — all of which could bring about rapid, high-impact change that could revolutionize translational research and the translational science process.
NCATS is funding Translator through its Cures Acceleration Network (CAN), which includes Other Transaction (OT) authority. With CAN, NCATS has more funding flexibility, especially using OT authority, when grants, contracts and cooperative agreements may not adequately meet scientific need. NCATS staff will work closely with the newly awarded experts to expand and modify — and if needed, discontinue — activities based on program needs.
During the feasibility assessment, the research team will evaluate the translational gap between the scientific molecular and cellular biology and the clinical signs and symptoms produced in diseases. More specifically, they will identify data integration and inclusion barriers and develop and test a plan for data quality control and updates. They also will explore the development of models used in artificial intelligence research to gain new insights into biology, health and disease.
To pressure test various aspects of feasibility, cross-cutting research questions that have been difficult to address by other means will be addressed in demonstration projects to evaluate the functionality of the newly integrated data. The type of functionality explored includes understanding which drugs have the potential to interact in unexpected ways; examining the impact of environmental exposures on the onset or worsening of disease; evaluating the ability to help patients for whom existing approaches have failed to identify the origin of their symptoms; and better understanding relationships between rare and common diseases.
The longer-term goal is to create a ground-breaking, publicly available resource that brings together all biomedical and health data types using an informatics platform approach. Ultimately, researchers will have access to a powerful system that enables discovery of complex relationships among data, which will help scientists better understand disease and develop new treatments for patients.
Posted October 2016