A New Paradigm for Biomedical Research


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In the world of biomedicine, a few trailblazers are envisioning a new way for researchers to share information and accelerate the progress of curing human disease. According to Stephen Friend, Ashoka Fellow and founder of SAGE Bionetworks, academic and commercial researchers typically work in isolation. They are “hunting and gathering,” accumulating data that becomes protected intellectual property. In this competitive atmosphere, research is often duplicated, and progress that could be accelerated by cooperation is stonewalled. 
 
SAGE Bionetworks is working to change that. The nonprofit hopes to create a new paradigm of cooperation through an open-source commons that incentivizes information sharing and, ultimately, benefits health consumers. 

Other innovators are also recognizing the potential power of data sharing to scale innovation. A significant number of entrants in the Making More Health competition are leveraging new technology and open-source information systems to benefit health.
 
Nyaya Health in Nepal uses an online wiki as part of its open-source operations model, which “provide[s] organizations a platform to replicate the clinical, managerial, financial, and technological systems that are effective in resource-poor environments.” 
 
Genetic Alliance hopes to accelerate traditional research and lower the immense cost passed down to patients. According to the organization, “the public would be appalled if they knew that the ability to be nimble and innovative in biomedical research is currently stymied by traditional structures that do not allow for the power of networks of citizen-scientists to accelerate translational research.” Its solution incorporates a data-aggregation platform that facilitates collaboration between citizen scientists, disease advocacy organizations, and academic and industry researchers.
 
Earlier this month, Changemakers’ Roshan Paul and Alexa Clay interviewed Stephen Friend for the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Read the interview and find more about SAGE’s vision here.

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