CSC Life Sciences Forum in Malaga (11th – 12th Feb 2015)

The weather in Malaga may not have been too hot, but the discussions within the Molina Lario hotel over two days last week were intense.

CSC hosted this forum, which attracted some of the top life science company execs from across central and southern Europe, as well as a roll call of leading technology providers.

Topics covered ranged from big data, cybersecurity and standards automation, to regulatory compliance outsourcing, digital transformation and agility. Gartner provided a well-researched overview of how the supply chain is evolving in life sciences, and there was a CIO round table which could easily have lasted twice as long as the time allocated to it.

The CIOs at the round table were: Albert Almajano of Grupo Indukern; Dietmar Bettio of Nobel Biocare; Matthias Moritz of Almirall; and Sergio Gistas of Esteve. They concluded that, as nowadays businesses can have ‘everything, everywhere’, the choices they make will be vital. Cost savings are important, but so of course is security. Big data is also seen as an essential tool for life sciences companies, but the CIOs agreed that there are still too few people who are sufficiently competent to interpret the resulting analysis.

Again, they all agreed that analytics from social media is coming to the fore. This is publicly available personal data, which people are providing openly and willingly through social media platforms. The panel felt that, within ethical guidelines, companies should look to leverage it wherever it makes sense to do so. Some are already using this externally-generated data to drive campaigns; for example, you can very quickly pick up trends on social media, such as a type of illness affecting a certain town or city. It will not be long at all before sales and marketing people will be able to ask these tools to tell them, “How are people feeling in Barcelona this week, and what might they need from us?”

The CIOs felt that services based in the cloud, especially from trusted providers such as CSC, were now safe to use. These are starting to be used to orchestrate and deploy resources, and new services such as ‘clinical trials in the cloud’ are starting to emerge. Several players may need to collaborate to generate content for these services, and the CIO panel was unanimous in saying that secure collaboration was becoming increasingly important to their enterprises.

The forum included a fabulous gala dinner at the Picasso Museum. I had been hoping for a private tour there, but it was not to be. Walking through the gleaming streets of Malaga with the orange trees heavy with fruit, we reminisced on what we had learned during the day. Life sciences is an industry sector perfectly positioned to exploit the new technologies that are already prevalent in markets such as financial services. While security and compliance are always a consideration, there are now trusted providers who can deliver a range of solutions and services to drive technology-enabled, and capital-efficient, innovation into pharmaceutical companies.

Genomic Googling – a new type of personalised search

Who should be able to access your most personal details?

Nearly a year ago, and with very little publicity given the significance of what it was doing, Google launched Google Genomics. Google Genomics is a cloud-based service, aimed at large hospitals and medical universities. It allows them to move DNA data into Google’s server farms, and provides  an interface or API to support detailed analysis of that data using the same algorithmic-based technology they apply to web searches.

The benefits are potentially vast, almost mind-boggling in fact.

Given that it takes a matter of minutes now to decode a human genome, and that the 100Gb of data produced costs around $20 per annum to store using a Google or Amazon cloud service, the scaling up of such a service is completely viable.

Imagine that you are a cancer sufferer, and your genome (and those of your tumour) have been decoded, uploaded to Google Genomics, and then matched against the others that are stored there. This process could predict which therapy or drug would offer you optimum results, based on the past experience of other patients with a similar genetic make up.

Now think of all the fuss that was made last year, when the NHS announced to patients that the initiative would allow their GP records to be shared with other care providers (and possibly the private sector). The Google Genetics initiative is in a whole different league to that.

Information about you that you might never have known, hidden traits, predispositions to illness and frailty – all could be interpreted by scientists from your genome and used in ways you could never have imagined. While this could benefit both you and humanity in general, we have to ask whether the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

We all know that data is never 100% secure. Government agencies and large companies (e.g. Sony) have their systems and repositories hacked far more frequently than the news headlines suggest. So, how do you feel about the risk that your most private data, the code that summarises you as a physical being, could become accessible to people who might misuse it?

It is a moral dilemma, and the issues of consent are significant.

Just because I give permission for my hospital to decode my genome to optimise my medication regime, that doesn’t mean that I consent to it being stored in a cloud that can then be accessed by other individuals and organisations, even if in an anonymised form.

On the other hand, if comparing my genome against 100 million others will extend the length and improve the quality of my life, is privacy a small price to pay?

Are we ready for personalised genetic testing

Here is the blog article I wrote for the global CSC website on this issue

link here

Make a ringtone out of music on your iPhone

Just got my new 3G iPhone and absolutely loving it!!

I found this very useful process for turning chunks of non DRM music on your iPhone into ringtones. I just tried it – it couldn’t be easier!! The only bit I’d change is right near the end when it says to drag and drop the new ringtone into your library. That didn’t work for me, but when  created a folder in my iTunes library called ringtones, moved the file there, then added that to my ringtones library, it worked fine.

Now all I need to work out is how to import all of the contacts off my orange SIM card into my iPhone. Anyone know how?

Visualisation periodic table

I know that I’ve posted a similar one to this before, but I really like the different visualisations shown on here. I just wish that you could click through to a template for each one!

Which chart to use?

Sometimes, you just can’t decide which chart is the right one to use. This handy flowchart helps you to decide.

Generic Work Process

Found this interesting list of work processes. Some of them (like the wizard of Oz one) I had never heard of before.


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