Data integration a key concern

FRAMINGHAM (03/10/2004) - Some speakers offered glimpses into the distant future, but most of the attendees at this year's AccelrysWorld, held March 8-10 in San Diego, were focused on today's pressing issues. "Data integration is still what interests me most," says attendee Mike Tennant of Trilogy Pharmaceuticals Inc., who spoke to Bio-IT World remotely from the meeting. "I spend a lot of my time investigating new database and software tools."

The conference drew about 200 attendees with an agenda that mixed 'nuts and bolts' presentations with talks like "Technofutures" and science historian/author James Burke on "Innovation." "There's an incredible diversity of topics being discussed," says Ian Murrell, sales manager of electronic lab notebook maker Klee Group. Accelrys also provides user training at this annual event.

"A big topic has been cross-boundary informatics," says Scott Kahn, Accelrys CSO. "Blending cheminformatics and bioinformatics." Another hot button, according to Kahn, is automation. "People are more and more interested in using informatics, to track, manage, and develop protocols that can automate the 'eddies' in typical pathways," he says. An 'eddy' being any diversion slowing the overall pace of discovery.

The quest for 'seamless' integration of multiple data types has been longstanding and disappointing to date. Tennant, who is senior director of Medical and Computational Chemistry at Trilogy, says he's starting to see "exciting things happening." The age-old issue of data quality also loomed its head. "But the thinking is that you first have to give people access to the data," says Kahn. "Then you can worry about tagging, cross validating, and other steps to assure quality."

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