Our projects in scientific coordination, challenges and benchmarking, and digital health span across our teams in research, technology, and governance. Being cross-disciplinary and open enables us to collaborate more effectively.
Computational Oncology – This group is a multidisciplinary team of computational biologists, biostatisticians, bioinformaticians, and computer programmers. Its singular mission is to serve and support the biomedical community using the principles of open science – data sharing, reproducible research, and collaboration – to deepen and accelerate the discoveries that will improve patient outcomes. Their work comprises three domains: translational research, cross-community collaboration and data coordination, and crowd-sourcing and data challenges.
Systems Biology – This group focuses both on genomics and participant-centered research where data is being collected, using remote sensors and mobile phones. They use open- and team-based science to encourage a large number of external partners to collaborate on data-intensive problems. This includes establishing norms and methods for measuring disease phenotypes using remote sensors and developing analytical approaches for turning raw signals from sensors into digital biomarkers. The group has been involved in more than two dozen mobile health studies, ranging from chronic anemia to Parkinson’s disease.
Neurodegenerative Disease – This team leads consortia-wide efforts to analyze ‘omics data generated in the Accelerating Medicine Partnership – Alzheimer’s Disease (AMP-AD) consortium. Within Alzheimer’s, they’re trying to define robust and reproducible transcriptomic signatures of disease, along with building better community resources to accelerate the identification of novel targets within Alzheimer’s disease. They also lead variant prioritization for the generation of new mouse models of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease within the MODEL-AD consortium.
Much of the work we do at Sage Bionetworks requires the support of innovative technological solutions. The Sage Technology Platform team partners with Sage’s scientific teams to develop applications that support their research collaborations. When common needs emerge across multiple projects, we work to develop general-purpose services and tools. Whenever possible, we work to coordinate with open-source communities and standards organizations to facilitate adoption of the resources we build into new research programs – both at Sage by other organizations.
Our technology development process starts with a focus on user-centered design. Whether we are serving researchers or study participants, our design team takes the time to talk with the individuals who will interact with our tools, and incorporate their perspectives into our work. Our web and mobile development teams have engineered scientific applications ranging from supporting the distribution and reuse of complex biomedical data to helping patients better track their conditions. Applications developed at Sage leverage an open API to the Sage Platform – a set of web services providing sophisticated data management capabilities built completely on state-of-the-art cloud computing technologies. Our approach provides a foundation for secure and ethical handling of sensitive biomedical research data that is fully compliant with regulations such as HIPAA, GDPR, and CFR Part 11.
Governance and Ethics
If science is going to work better together, new kinds of governance must be at its core. Governance is thus an essential part of the Sage Bionetworks’ approach to supporting innovative science with technology. The team explores the real-world implications, including ethical and social issues, of open-data sharing, developing policies and procedures for the responsible collection, use, and reuse of research assets. Where traditional governance models are used to protect institutions against risks of litigation, Sage’s model uses governance to enable fair and transparent research, to amplify good behavior, and emphasize the importance of proper attribution.
Resources and policies produced by the Governance Team, including novel approaches to informed consent, clinical protocols, and data access, are implemented by Sage’s scientists and engineers to support their work on collaborative science platforms and mobile health research efforts, and are available for open use in projects worldwide.