Big Data and Innovation in R&D: Industry Leaders Are Speaking

Big Data and Innovation in R&D: Industry Leaders Are Speaking

Big Data illustration

Recently we have discussed the reality of the digital transformation in commercial, marketing and medical functions in the life sciences industry. In this 2nd episode, we discuss the history, progress, impacts, challenges and benefits of Big Data analytics, Artificial Intelligence in R&D (life sciences) and healthcare. This issue features a filmed interview of two industry leaders: Dr. Pierre Meulien and Dr. Dipak Kalra.

Take a look at our next episode of this interview!

Interviewed by Dr. Philippe Salphati, Managing Director and Partner at Tefen


List of Videos:

1. Meet our experts (below)
2. The history of Big Data (below)
3. Big Data - Big change (below)
4. What is the key competitive advantage? (next part)
5. Big Data collaboration = innovation (next part)


In the previous Tefen Tribune Article, we spoke with leaders from the Life Science industry about the operationalization of digital transformation in the commercial, marketing and medical functions. 

The digital revolution has pushed the boundaries and provided health care organization with opportunities to better understand the patient care pathway and the patient journey – improving outcomes and health care efficiency. Big Data analytics, AI and so could also accelerate the pace of innovation in R&D, and eventually “optimize” its huge costs.

Health care and life sciences now have a lot at stake to collaborate closely. The life science industry needs health care organizations to generate Real World data and better understand how to improve the patient journey and care pathway.

We are proud to present this video interviewed of two of the leading experts in these industries. Interviewed by Tefen partner, Dr. Philippe Salphati, they have discussed the significant issue of Big Data and innovation in R&D, each from his industry's point of view. 

1. Meet our experts (3:18) 

Meet our Experts

Dr. Pierre Meulien, PhD, is the Executive Director at Innovative Medicines Initiative, a public-private partnership.

Pierre was the President and CEO at Genome Canada, a catalyst for developing and applying genomic sciences that create economic wealth and social benefit for Canadians, working in in partnership to invest in and manage large-scale research and translate discoveries into commercial opportunities, new technologies, applications and solutions, in order to forge a genomics-based public-private innovation.

He also was CEO of Dublin Molecular Medicine Center, a translational research enterprise involving 3 Dublin based medical schools (TCD, UCD and RCSI) and 6 teaching hospitals.

He also was Senior Vice President of R&D in Sanofi Pasteur Canada (formerly known as Aventis Pasteur).

Dipak Kalra, PhD, FRCGP, is President of The European Institute for Health Records (EuroRec).

He plays a leading international role in research and development of EHR architectures and systems, including approaches to harmonize clinical meaning and protect privacy, and had led the development of key international standards on EHR interoperability.

Dipak leads the Managing Entity (EuroRec) for a €16m Innovative Medicines Initiative on the re-use of electronic health record information for clinical research, EHR4CR, alongside ten global pharmaceutical companies.

Dipak also leads an EU Network of Excellence on semantic interoperability, and is a partner in other EU projects on the sustainability of interoperability assets and the transatlantic sharing patient summaries.

Dipak is Clinical Professor of Health Informatics at University College London, United Kingdom, a Director of the openEHR Foundation, and a member of standards bodies including CEN, ISO and HL7-UK.


Here are selected quotes from this issue's video interviews. We welcome you to watch the full interviews, and dive into the exciting future that the innovative Big Data and R&D worlds hold:

Big Data and R&D – Past and Present

2. The history of Big Data (7:37) 

The term "Big Data" started developing in the climate change, astrophysics, and other domains – and gained acceleration in these projects. However, in the Life Sciences industry point of view, the real Big Data project was the mapping of the human genome; says Pierre Meulien.

It drove the IT side, developing analytical tools that are now used to analyze genome data, and even data such as proteins and metabolites, that are connected to the genome project.

It can also be traced back to the foundations of epidemiology, says Dipak Kalra, where universities and other institutes have collected large data sets. Countries have built up disease registers, and operative registers of many kinds, which often have multimillion patient database in them.

The pharma industry has routinely collected Big Data – this is not new, add Dr. Kalra. In UK in the late 1980's, the pharma industry was interested in what data general practitioners may be able to collect. And they helped to fund some early generations GP systems in England, which at time didn't collect enough data to make it worthwhile. But this has eventually led to the creation of the CPRD, which is nowadays known as one of the largest and most used collections of routinely collected health data globally, robustly anonymized.

But of course, nowadays the term Big Data has been used more, as the potential volumes of Big Data that might be available for research have grown hugely. This is a very exciting time for the industry, and the level of curiosity – as to what the potential might be – is high.

As a result of these progresses, what does the future hold for R&D?

3. Big Data - Big change (5:40) 

These key changes have affected healthcare organizations and R&D and today, globally, he says, as we have more healthcare organizations in any European country and in any country in the world. So we have more healthcare organizations (hospitals and GPs), using electronic health records, collecting high volumes of data.

One of the biggest changes is that this data can be used not only for pure research, published research (academic or industry sponsored research): But it can be used by healthcare organizations themselves, to understand where they are on the quality spectrum and to see where they are not achieving clinical outcomes they would like to achieve.

They can even look internally at the data and see where the outcomes are failing to be achieved, what are the points of inefficient practice, inappropriate variation so that they can address them.


So, the healthcare industry has an exciting opportunity to use the data to improve healthcare as well as to accelerate knowledge discovery.

From the R&D, knowledge discovery side, according to Pierre Meulien, the dramatic change has been driven by scientific knowledge that has been enabled by these new technologies.

The biological understanding of disease is driven by many different things. A significant example is the emerging field of personalized medicine, driven much more by the understanding of the biological systems that are in play in healthcare and diseases, rather than taking a very anatomical organ-based view of medicine.

So, the taxonomy of disease, says Dr. Meulien, is changing dramatically (i.e. how we describe what is severe asthma, different forms of cancer, different forms of diabetes or Alzheimer's, etc.).

This has revolutionized both research in the academia as well as the industry, approaching understanding of disease mechanisms and developing new innovative medicines, that hopefully will help treat these diseases.


Do you want to know more about this hot topic? In the next part of the interview we will discuss the practical sides and impact of R&D and Big Data, the future of these industries, challenges, collaborations, and more.

Take a look at our next episode of this series!


Dr. Philippe Salphati

Managing Director and Partner at Tefen Europe

Digital Transformation, Business Design and Transformation, and Commercial Excellence expert in the Life Sciences sector

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