CommonMind – New Open Research Resource

Press Release: CommonMind Consortium Launched as a Public-Private Effort to Generate and Broadly Share Molecular Data on Neuropsychiatric Disease.

Date: April 9th, 2012
Contact: Jonathan Derry, Vice-President, Sage Bionetworks
Tel: (206) 667-2101   email: info@CommonMind.org

SEATTLE, WA.  Sage Bionetworks, Mount Sinai School of Medicine (MSSM), University of Pennsylvania (Penn), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and Takeda Pharmaceuticals Company Limited (TAKEDA) have launched a Public-Private Pre-Competitive Consortium to generate and analyze large-scale genomic data from human subjects with neuropsychiatric disease and to make this data and the associated analytical results broadly available to the public. This collaboration brings together disease area expertise, large scale and well curated brain sample collections, and data management and analysis expertise from the respective institutions.

As many as 450 million people worldwide are believed to be living with a mental or behavioral disorder: schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are two of the top six leading causes of years lived with disability according to the World Health Organization. The burden on the individual as well as on society is significant with estimates for the health care costs for these individuals as high as four percent GNP. This highlights a grave need for new therapies to alleviate this suffering.

Researchers from MSSM including Dr. Pamela Sklar, Dr. Joseph Buxbaum and Dr. Eric Schadt will join with Dr. Raquel Gur and Dr. Chang-Gyu Hahn from Penn to combine their extensive brain bank collections for the generation of whole genome scale RNA and DNA sequence data. Dr. Pamela Sklar, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at MSSM commented “this is an exciting opportunity for us to use the newest genomic methods to really expand our understanding of the molecular underpinnings of neuropsychiatric disease”, while Dr Raquel Gur, Professor of Psychiatry from Penn observed “this will be a great complement to some of the large-scale genetic analyses that have been carried out to date because it will give a more complete mechanistic picture”.

Dr. Jonathan Derry, Vice President of Research at Sage Bionetworks noted, “We are truly thrilled to be partnering with some of the best brain researchers to generate an unprecedented scale of molecular data that we will make broadly available as a resource to the community through our data analysis and management platform Synapse.”  Dr Thomas Lehner, Chief Genomics Research Branch at NIMH added, “The NIMH is particularly excited about this partnership that will leverage resources and expertise in both the public and the private sector to accelerate research into the causes and treatments of major mental illness”.

TAKEDA has provided seed funding for the effort that will look to expand in the future. The CommonMind Consortium is committed to generating an open resource for the community and invites others with common goals to contact us at info@CommonMind.org.

Download PDF of Press Release

Young Investigator Travel Awards

Sage Bionetworks is offering 10 travel awards to the 2012 Commons Congress in San Francisco to grad students, postdocs and early stage investigators. Details and an on line application form are available on the Congress website.  This is a fantastic opportunity for young clinicians, biologists, software engineers and computational scientists who are passionate about open science and data-intensive science to participate and contribute.

Application deadline is February 29, so act quickly. Please forward this information on to outstanding candidates!

 

Synapse Demonstration Webinar on line

One of Sage Bionetworks’ primary activities is the creation of a computational platform, called Synapse, that will facilitate open, reproducible data-driven science and support the reusability of information by ontology-based services and applications directed at scientific researchers and data curators. Dr. Michael Kellen, Director of Technology at Sage Bionetworks provided a demonstration of an alpha version of the Synapse platform to the National Center for Biomedical Ontology and discussed its application to clinical science.  A recorded webinar of his presentation and the discussions is available on line: http://www.bioontology.org/Sage-Bionetworks-Synapse-Project

Trial by Twitter

“Blogs and tweets are ripping papers apart within days of publication, leaving researchers unsure how to react.”

In case you missed it; Apoorva Mandavilli has a thoughtful article in Nature on the sometimes difficult transition scientists and publishers have to the rapid and very public criticism of and debate on scientific papers in social media.

Highlighting the need for new cultural norms, the article notes “For many researchers, the pace and tone of this online review can be intimidating — and can sometimes feel like an attack. How are authors supposed to respond to critiques coming from all directions? Should they even respond at all? Or should they confine their replies to the conventional, more deliberative realm of conferences and journals? “The speed of communication is ahead of the sheer time needed to think and get in the lab and work,” said Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a post-doctoral fellow at the NASA Astrobiology Institute in Mountain View, California, and the lead author on the arsenic paper. Aptly enough, she circulated that comment as a tweet on Twitter, which is used by many scientists to call attention to longer articles and blog posts.”