03 February 2019 91

FAIRplus: new project to improve data sharing and reuse in life sciences research

The FAIRplus project - that kicked off on February 1st - aims to improve data management and data governance in European health research by increasing the discovery, accessibility and reusability of data from selected projects funded by the EU’s Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI), and internal data from pharmaceutical industry partners. CMAST is also involved in this project, in support of Janssen Pharmaceutica.

The Innovative Medicine Initiative has a total budget of €5.3 billion and has launched over 100 individual projects across all areas of pharmaceutical research and drug development. To take advantage of the wealth of life sciences data produced by these projects, these data need to be readily available to other researchers, so that they can find them and integrate them with the outcomes of their own experiments. The gold standard in data management is to make life sciences data FAIR - Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.

The FAIRplus project will develop methodologies and tools to increase the FAIR-ness of data and demonstrate the added value of the FAIR-fication process on selected IMI projects and datasets from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). Even though pharma companies within the FAIRplus consortium may not be able to share their data widely, their data scientists will use the methodology and tools internally to improve their data management procedures. Trainings will be organized for data scientists in academia, SMEs and pharmaceutical companies to enable wider adoption of best practices in life sciences data management. 

The project involves 22 pharmaceutical, small company and academic partners from nine European countries. It is funded by the IMI as a public-private partnership and will run for three and a half years (2019-2022). Janssen Pharmaceutica NV is the pharmaceutical industry lead of the project - with coordination provided by ELIXIR.

Too often, life sciences data are stored in isolated silos, with inconsistent annotation or in incompatible formats. Most of the data from IMI projects are still stored in project-specific proprietary databases and provide very little opportunity for reuse either outside of the project, or beyond its duration. Additionally, the FAIR SME & Innovation programme will disseminate the project outcomes to SMEs, enabling wide data reuse, and fostering an innovation ecosystem around these data. FAIRplus will help researchers and data managers make their data FAIR and equip researchers in academia and industry with the knowledge and tools for effective data management in future projects.
Serena Scollen, Head of Human Genomics and Translational Data at ELIXIR and the Project Coordinator. 

As an SME that enables our industry clients to integrate in our enterprise software platform their internal data with open data, Eagle Genomics is critically dependent on access to open, interoperable life-science data. FAIRplus will give us an opportunity to provide feedback on the FAIR methodology and better understand the project outcomes. Translating the FAIR principles into a well-defined FAIR standard will be a great step forward in data discovery, usability and ultimately exposing its relevance and value.
Abel Ureta-Vidal, Chief Product Officer and Founder of Eagle Genomics, one of the Associate Partners of the project

The FAIRplus team believes that unlocking the collective knowledge contained in IMI projects and internal pharma datasets is a huge opportunity to advance European science. Linking and combining data across life sciences domains will provide new insights into the mechanisms of diseases and therefore improve drug discovery and drug development success rates. FAIR data is also essential in applying artificial intelligence methods to datasets from different sources and scientific domains. Through FAIRplus we are looking to build an efficient and portable FAIRification pipeline to deliver a foundation knowledge base to support future research for decades.
Serena Scollen, Head of Human Genomics and Translational Data at ELIXIR and the Project Coordinator. 


At CMAST we are passionate about life sciences and healthcare. Our team of more than 90 industry experts is dedicated to assisting life sciences & pharma companies and universities & research institutes in the creation and development of innovative healthcare solutions.

For this project CMAST was involved in building the consortium, in preparing the full proposal and in the negotiation phase, and will be involved in the project management now that the project enters into the execution phase.

About the Innovative Medicines Initiative

The Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI) is a partnership between the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry, represented by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). It is working to improve health by speeding up the development of, and patient access to, the next generation of medicines, particularly in areas where there is an unmet medical or social need. More info on IMI: www.imi.europa.eu


FAIRplus project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 802750. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA Companies. This communication reflects the views of the authors and neither IMI nor the European Union, EFPIA or any Associated Partners are liable for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.

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