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Highlights from Pistoia Alliance’s FAIR workshop

August 20, 2018 | By Maxim Moinat

The Hyve hosted a Pistoia Alliance workshop on FAIR data at its Utrecht office on the 5th of June. We welcomed 28 participants to exchange of views on how to best implement the FAIR principles within Pharma and Life Sciences R&D.

FAIR aims to make scientific research data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. During the workshop, the participants evaluated the way Pharma and Life Science companies handle their research data with the FAIR principles in mind.

A range of questions was discussed in small groups – according to the World Café methodology. They covered topics like best practices and tools for FAIRification of data, the FAIR management of datasets, and Return of Investment (ROI) for going FAIR. In a plenary session, each group subsequently presented their conclusions, key findings, and outstanding questions.

Quite a number of participants indicated that they are convinced FAIR is an excellent way to handle research data, yet they struggle to put these principles into practice. One outstanding question, for example, is how to convince senior management they should back FAIR and provide funds for implementing it.

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The workshop participants indicated that many pharmaceutical companies already exchange data within the company, in one form or another. This makes it more difficult to convince boards of directors to invest in FAIR and that the company would benefit from adopting these principles. 

Examples of successful and cost-effective implementation might persuade senior management. Therefore, Martin Romacker presented on his experiences with the implementation of FAIR at Roche. Such success stories are scarce though at the moment, as the FAIR principles have been published only fairly recently and the best way to put these guidelines into practice is still being debated within the FAIR community.

The interest in the workshop from a wide range of companies is very encouraging. There is a clear support for the FAIR principles. To guide the implementation, the findings from the workshop will be set out in a white paper set to be published in Drug Discovery Today in November. Another output is the creation of a Pistoia project to identify specific practical approaches to implement the FAIR principles.

A white paper by The Hyve’s Jarno van Erp, evaluating to what extend the FAIR principles are implemented in three widely used data catalogs, will appear shortly.

If you would like to learn more on FAIR, read our other blog posts on FAIR or contact us.

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