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Announcing the Health Commons

June 12th, 2008 by dwentworth

People make chairs more productively, hamburgers more productively, cars more productively, everything else in the world except medicines. — Aled Edwards, Director and CEO of the Structural Genomics Consortium (via CBC News Canada)

The drug discovery process is badly broken. Despite the scientific and technological advances that make genetic decoding commonplace, the time it takes to go from gene target to cure still stands at 17 years.

Science Commons’ mission is to speed the translation of basic research to useful discoveries, and we believe that a new approach is necessary to find more cures, faster. Today, we’re opening up the Health Commons, a project aimed at bringing the same efficiencies to human health that the network brought to commerce and culture.

The project, founded by Science Commons in collaboration with CommerceNet, CollabRx and the Public Library of Science (PLoS), is introduced in a 6-minute video presentation and white paper posted on the Science Commons website. The paper, Health Commons: Therapy Development in a Networked World [PDF], is co-authored by John Wilbanks, Vice President of Science at Creative Commons, and Marty Tenenbaum, an Internet commerce pioneer and founder of CommerceNet and CollabRx.

[Click below to watch the video presentation.]

“Biomedical knowledge is exploding, and yet the system to capture that knowledge and translate it into saving human lives still relies on an antiquated and risky strategy of focusing the vast resources of a few pharmaceutical companies on just a handful of disease targets,” explains Wilbanks in the project introduction.

The Health Commons proposes a different approach: enabling more companies, foundations, laboratories or even individuals to conduct research on disease targets efficiently, by providing better access to the resources that large pharmaceutical companies assemble and integrate “in house.” To do this, Health Commons will facilitate the emergence of a “virtual marketplace,” or ecosystem, through which participants can more easily access the data, knowledge, materials and services for accelerating research.

The components might include databases of the results of chemical assays, toxicity screens and clinical trials; libraries of drugs and chemical compounds; repositories of biological materials (tissue samples, cell lines, molecules); computational models predicting drug efficacies or side effects; and contract services for high-throughput genomics and proteomics, combinatorial drug screening, animal testing and biostatistics.

“The resources offered through the [Health] Commons might not necessarily be free, though many could be,” explains Wilbanks. “However, all would be available under standard pre-negotiated terms and conditions and with standardized data formats that eliminate the debilitating delays, legal wrangling and technical incompatibilities that frustrate scientific collaboration today.”

Science Commons welcomes your interest in the Health Commons. If you’d like to collaborate with us to accelerate drug discovery, we encourage you to contact us.

2 Responses

  1. $1-million grants are to help health (Detroit Free Press) — Health Women, on June 12th, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    [...] Announcing the <b>Health</b> Commons [...]

  2. Health News » Announcing the Health Commons, on June 12th, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    [...] Julie Pippert wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThe paper, Health Commons: Therapy Development in a Networked World [PDF], is co-authored by John Wilbanks, Vice President of Science at Creative Commons, and Marty Tenenbaum, an Internet commerce pioneer and founder of CommerceNet and … [...]