BOSTON — April 4, 2006 — Today at the Bio-IT World Magazine World Life Sciences Conference + Expo, Microsoft Corp. announced the formation of the BioIT Alliance, a cross-industry group working to further integrate science and technology as a first step toward making personalized medicine a reality. The alliance unites the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, hardware and software industries to explore new ways to share complex biomedical data and collaborate among multidisciplinary teams to ultimately speed the pace of drug discovery and development. Founding members of the alliance include Accelrys Software Inc., Affymetrix Inc., Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., Applied Biosystems and The Scripps Research Institute, among more than a dozen industry leaders. The alliance also announced its first project, the Collaborative Molecular Environment, a data management solution to help make research more efficient.
“Advances in our understanding of the human genome promise to revolutionize medicine and open the door to therapies that are tailored to individuals,” said Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft. “By bringing together people from innovative life sciences organizations that span the biomedical industry, the BioIT Alliance will play an important role in the development of solutions that transform today’s data into knowledge and improve the quality of millions of lives.”
Life science companies have unique technical challenges such as the need for more comprehensive data integration solutions, better technical collaboration and stronger knowledge management capabilities. The BioIT Alliance brings together science and technology leaders to consider innovative ways to address these challenges and use technology to reduce costs, streamline research and market their products more effectively.
Founding members of the alliance have already begun to collaborate on solutions that target common technology problems faced by life science companies. The first of these solutions is the Collaborative Molecular Environment, which will provide a means for data capture, visualization, annotation and archiving using Microsoft® Office, Windows® Presentation Foundation and SharePoint® Technologies. Microsoft is partnering with alliance member company InterKnowlogy LLC on the project, which is being tested by several other alliance members.
“Bringing research results to the bedside and patients’ responses to the research bench is at the core of translational medicine. Our focus on cancer diagnostic and structure-based drug development demonstrates how basic research directly impacts human health,” said Peter Kuhn, professor of cell biology at The Scripps Research Institute. “The Collaborative Molecular Environment developed with InterKnowlogy and Microsoft through the BioIT Alliance is a response to the critical need for productivity tools at the laboratory bench that connect experimental data, support decision-making on the spot, and communicate the data in context to other members of our research groups and our collaborators.”
In addition to making data easier to manage, early efforts of the alliance are focused on making data easier to share. Two member companies working on this are Affymetrix and Applied Biosystems.
“Affymetrix is committed to facilitating translational medicine by providing tools which deliver high information content and data quality into basic research, clinical research and diagnostic applications,” said Steve Lincoln, vice president of informatics at Affymetrix. “We are pleased to work with Microsoft and others in the BioIT Alliance to explore new ways to further integrate these data into emerging biomedical research and development work flows.”
“Through the BioIT Alliance, we are working closely with Microsoft to increase data access across our instrument systems and data analysis software tools using Ecma Open Office XML,” said Catherine M. Burzik, president of Applied Biosystems. “This format enables life science companies to access data using the familiar Microsoft Office Excel® interface, providing them with the insight they need to make decisions more quickly.”
The BioIT Alliance will also provide independent software vendors (ISVs) with industry knowledge that helps them commercialize informatics solutions more quickly with less risk.
“The BioIT Alliance will help Accelrys gain greater insight from customers and other ISVs as we collaborate on technology to improve productivity,” said Bill Taylor, vice president of corporate development and marketing for Accelrys. “We are enthusiastic about the opportunities that this collaboration will bring to the industry.”
Most efforts to unite the life science and IT industries are focused on developing technology to enable the early-stage drug discovery process. By addressing the technology issues that companies face throughout the development cycle and by working with some of world’s top technology providers, the alliance will help the industry move closer to making personalized medicine a reality.
“The intersection of biology and computer science is an increasingly rich area for innovation,” said Dr. Rick LeFaivre, partner at OVP Venture Partners. “As venture investors, we believe systems biology will fundamentally transform the practice of medicine from today’s reactive mode to predictive and preventive care. But there is much work to be done to build out robust data management, analysis and modeling platforms. OVP applauds Microsoft for spearheading the formation of the BioIT Alliance. The development of best practices and standards is vital to the development of this revolutionary technology, which will inevitably lead to dramatically improved personalized healthcare.”
About the BioIT Alliance
Formed in 2006, the BioIT Alliance is a cross-industry group working together to improve biomedical information technology on the Microsoft platform. Founding members include Affymetrix, Accelrys, Amylin, Applied Biosystems, The BioTeam Inc., Digipede Technologies LLC, Discovery Biosciences Corp., Geospiza Inc., HP, InterKnowlogy, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems Inc., VizX Labs LLC and other key companies in the pharmaceutical, biotech, hardware and software industries. Additional information about the BioIT Alliance can be found on the BioIT Alliance Web site at http://www.bioitalliance.org.
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