Cohen Veterans Bioscience was originally launched as Orion Bionetworks in July 2012 with a focus on Multiple Sclerosis. Thanks to generous funding from the Steve A. Cohen Foundation, we changed our name in October 2015 to reflect our commitment to studying Veterans Brain Disorders.
The Power of Prediction
Long before Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the Atlantic coast in October 2012, meteorologists had predicted its course and its likely impact. Although the storm caused enormous damage, the early warnings allowed people to prepare or evacuate areas that were directly in its path.
The development of computer simulations of weather has transformed our ability to track and predict the severity of “perfect storms” like Hurricane Sandy. The success of these simulations is based on their ability to piece together many different kinds of data – including air pressure and temperature, water temperature, wind speed and ocean currents – into a faithful model of the extremely complex phenomenon that is weather.
Within the last decade, computer simulations have similarly revolutionized the fields of mechanical design, finance, ecology, and aerospace operations, among many others.
We are at a unique crossroads in history (the Information Age) where this promise of computer technology is intersecting with emerging medical technologies that can capture diverse biological information, from gene activity and brain function to the presence of telltale proteins in the blood. Combining powerful computing with this wealth of information can help us understand the complex biology that underlies most brain disorders.
Our initiative starts with rich data. Our healthcare partners conduct studies that collect broad and deep biological and patient data from people with brain disorders over time. In parallel, our patient community partners use online and mobile platforms to gather complementary data on the impact of the disease on patients in the real world and in real time.
Through powerful computer programs, we can take what was once a fragmented picture of disease—many different types of data studied separately—and begin to explore how everything fits together. Then we use these programs to build predictive models, or simulations, of brain disorders.
The prediction models can then help us:
- FIND biomarkers for new diagnostics,
- IDENTIFY molecular pathways for new therapeutic treatments,
- PREDICT the course of an individual based on their unique profile
- GENERATE best practice models for healthcare delivery
As we transition from a descriptive to a mechanistic approach that reveals principles of cells, cellular networks, organs, and emergent behavior and their interactions across several spatial and temporal scales, we will need to embrace mathematical and computational approaches to help us integrate, interrogate and visualize data to enable knowledge discovery.
To accelerate knowledge discovery we need to foster inter-disciplinary dialogue across many diverse groups and create the right ecosystem so that the diversity of talent across disciplines is all in the same virtual space, learning and working with each other.
Orion Bionetworks is committed to the development of resources that will enable data-sharing, data-mining, visualization and systems modeling and simulation. Many of these tools will be developed as open-source platforms and made available through the Toolbox.
Geppetto is a web-based multi-algorithm, multi-scale simulation platform engineered to support the simulation of complex biological systems and their surrounding environment. Geppetto’s integrative approach to biological modeling is at the heart of the Open Worm project.
The tranSMART Foundation is a global non-profit organization devoted to realizing the promise of translational biomedical research through development of the tranSMART knowledge management platform.
Alliance partner Exaptive, Inc. has created an interactive Visualization tool to help researchers interact with its growing database of brain data from multiple organizations housed in the Cloud on the TranSmart(™) platform.
Watch the video demonstration of the Data Explorer tool below: