Translator Frequently Asked Questions
What are NCATS’ goals for the Biomedical Data Translator program?
The long-term goal is to speed up translation through the development of a biomedical data translator for the research community. NCATS foresees this plan as a multiyear, iterative effort with the eventual development of a comprehensive, relational, N-dimensional Biomedical Data Translator that combines multiple types of existing data sources, including objective signs and symptoms of disease, drug effects and intervening types of biological data relevant to understanding pathophysiology. Each data type (see Appendix of FY 2016 Funding Opportunity Announcement [PDF - 134KB] for examples) must be comprehensive (e.g., all diseases, all pathways, all SNPs). It must be possible for a user to access the Translator from any data type and figure out all the connections in any other data type. In doing so, NCATS will allow a shift from the current symptom-based disease diagnosis to disease classification that is based on a set of molecular and cellular abnormalities that can be targeted by various preventative and therapeutic interventions.
Why has NCATS created this program?
NCATS created the Biomedical Data Translator program to address some of the biggest and hardest tasks in translational science. The different approaches taken and scientific language used by physicians and biomedical researchers can act as obstacles in the translational path. We take a general disease treatment approach toward addressing translational science, providing an interdisciplinary perspective that cuts across scientific boundaries and disease/organ system silos. Such a perspective is needed to remove those obstacles and help bring more treatments to more patients more quickly.
Are non-awardees able to participate in the NCATS-organized quarterly workshops with the intent of learning more about challenges in this effort and identifying means of partnering on possible solutions?
While awardees are required to participate in the quarterly workshops, non-awardees may be invited by NCATS to participate.
What types and sources of data will be included in the Biomedical Data Translator? Who will identify those data types and sources?
The Biomedical Data Translator will combine multiple types of existing data sources, including objective signs and symptoms of disease, drug effects and intervening types of biological data relevant to understanding pathophysiology. Each data type must be comprehensive (e.g., all diseases, all pathways, all SNPs). In the technical feasibility assessment and architecture design phase of the Translator program, the awardees will identify high-value data sources that would be needed both for a comprehensive Translator and to evaluate the validity and use of those data.
Will software written as part of this program be open source?
NCATS expects that this project will be intensely shared among research partners and NIH staff and that the unrestricted exchange of source code and software tools written as part of this program will be vital to a successful outcome. The goal of this programmatic effort is to produce data, software and tools that are completely publicly available for any user, without the requirement to subscribe to proprietary resources or tools to be used.