Applied Data Sciences Center

Daniel Robertson
Daniel Robertson, PhD
Applied Data Sciences Center Director

Data is everywhere.

Today’s world is increasingly driven by data.

Just consider the little data collectors many of us have on our wrists (e.g., FitBits, Apple Watches, Garmins). Every day massive amounts of data are captured, and the rate of data generation continues to accelerate.

In the life sciences, the convergence of information technology and biology presents an opportunity for innovations in how we apply data to solve big problems.

2019 highlights

Leading the Applied Data Sciences Center is Daniel Robertson, PhD. He and his team are focusing on the creation of tools and the development of applications that will enable deep computer learning to assist researchers, clinicians and patients.

  • Launched CTox, a shared toxicogenomic platform
  • Worked on an aligned strategy called the Indiana Health Data Trust
  • Collaborated with Cardinal Health on its simulated health data
  • Published two papers – Nature Medicine and Toxicological Sciences

CTox: Helping accelerate drug development

When the IBRI or other organizations are in the drug discovery process there is a need to know how the molecule being created will affect human health and the environment. This is often time-consuming. The launch of CTox, a new early risk assessment tool using toxicogenomics, aims to shorten that time.

Eli Lilly and Company, Corteva Agriscience (formerly Dow AgroSciences) and the IBRI partnered to develop this open data analytics platform that is designed to facilitate sharing both private and public sector expertise and processes to enhance the reproducibility of results and catalyze advances in toxicogenomics.

We believe by making CTox widely available to the broader scientific research community that it will ultimately help accelerate drug development by enabling timely decisions on the safety of compounds early in the discovery process. CTox can help do this based on shared data sets, development of new toxicogenomic tools and the collective understanding of molecular structure.

This platform was featured in the August 2019 edition of Toxicological Sciences, “A Novel Open Access Web Portal for Integrating Mechanistic and Toxicogenomic Study Results.” In the paper, the team highlighted CTox’s capabilities by analyzing the effects of several toxicants on liver gene expression to predict toxicity study outcomes upon chronic treatment from expression changes in acute-duration studies. 

Based on this publication and coordinated communication efforts including exhibiting the platform at the annual Society of Toxicology conference, numerous organizations are in the process of evaluating this platform. Some have even used internal project molecules with known toxicology as a test case. To the team’s knowledge, these assessments derived from the CTox platform are concordant with the internal proprietary data.

Focused on understanding type 2 diabetes from Electronic Health Records (EHR)

The Center has continued to drive the use of EHR from Regenstrief Institute with various industrial partners. This builds on the success and visibility from the publication in early 2019 of the article in Nature Medicine that showed how real-world patient data can better predict diabetes-related kidney disease in patients with the chronic disease. The team completed extracting, cleaning and processing a new type 2 diabetes (T2D) dataset from the Regenstrief Data Core. This data was cleaned and has supported multiple projects by Roche Diabetes Care GmbH to evaluate machine learning models with their partners.

Additionally, the IBRI team played a critical role in supporting prework that led to another collaboration by Regenstrief with a multi-national company. The IBRI team delivered the data toward the end of the year that helped drive efforts to build a diabetes medication recommendation system. This collaboration is anticipating a publication in 2020 where the results and partnership will be revealed.

Health data trains the next generation

In 2019, we collaborated with the innovation arm of Cardinal Health—FUSE—on its simulated health data. This led to joining Cardinal Health on multiple webinars and meetings to explore the value of this type of simulated data. It also allowed us to be the first to utilize this data for training purposes in an IUPUI biostatistics course.

“The IBRI is connecting academic discovery from across the globe to industry development and public and private enterprise to improve human health. It is truly ‘Discovery with Purpose.’”

—Indiana State Health Commissioner Kristina Box, MD, FACOG

Helping drive Indiana’s diabetes strategy

In part influenced by a collaborative project in 2016 between the IBRI, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), the Indiana State Management and Performance Hub (MPH), the Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE) and IU Health, the state legislature generated a mandate (HEA1175) in 2018 for ISDH to deliver a state-wide diabetes strategy leveraging local data sources rather than national patient-reported data.

We had the opportunity to work with key partners (e.g., MPH, IHIE and Regenstrief Institute) on an aligned strategy called the Indiana Health Data Trust that assisted ISDH to meet the deadline to deliver its diabetes strategy.

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