The Informatics Alliance Website Is Going Live – A Personal View
May 25, 2021 | Thomas Doerner
Welcome to the Informatics Alliance Website!
As an informal network of research informatics specialists, the Informatics Alliance has been around for a number of years, but only recently have we started to make our existence more public and become more active outside the small group of the Informatics Alliance and any specific projects. For example, we have created a LinkedIn presence, and we have published a discussion paper on FAIR chemical data. Now, I am very excited that, to complement each member’s individual web presence, the Informatics Alliance website is going live!
I want to take this opportunity and give some further background on what the Informatics Alliance is, as well as share some of the ‘history’ of the Informatics Alliance from a somewhat personal perspective.
Back in 2010, I became self-employed as an independent consultant for research informatics. This was quite a change from the life I had led before, being employed at two companies of significant size where you had IT staff to take care of your computer, admin staff to take care of various other bits and pieces, and where I did not have to worry a lot about things like legal regulations. Also, I had colleagues to talk to, exchange with, and also have fun with. Upon becoming self-employed, despite the various (and very much appreciated) support you get as a startup from government agencies and several other parties, I was suddenly kind of a lone warrior.
Incidentally, at about the same time my former MDL colleague Gerd Blanke started up his own business, StructurePendium GmbH, and it did not take very long until we regularly talked to each other, discussing how to overcome administration challenges and how to get our marketing going, sharing product news from software vendors, and discussing deep technical questions around cheminformatics. This collaboration quickly extended to a few more independent research informatics colleagues from our network: Jan Holst Jensen of Biochemfusion, Tom Blackadar who had just moved to China to set up Binocular Vision, and later Mary Beth Walsh of Kalleid. Over the years, we have had a small amount of turnover (one of the reasons was retirement :-), but overall we have been a very stable group.
The last one of the current Informatics Alliance members to join was Nick Lynch some years ago, who many people may know as co-founder and former president of the Pistoia Alliance (for more detail on current Informatics Alliance group members, see the Members page). Nick and I had known each other for many years from our previous lives but had kind of lost track. When we met at an industry event, Nick told me that he had also set up his own business, Curlew Research, and soon thereafter he joined the group.
The Informatics Alliance members have regular calls, exchanging with each other on industry trends and insights, on challenges in current engagements, and discussing potential joint projects and a variety of other things, including the weather in Boston and Shanghai, various parts of Germany and in the Danish wilderness, and the rain in Milton Keynes, UK (and of course, we honor confidentiality, any specific CDA/NDA we are bound to, and anti-trust codes when talking to each other). With the Informatics Alliance website going live, we now have an attractive platform to extend our activity to running events such as webinars with industry thought leaders (see the News and Events page for our webinar on AI ready chemical data in June), and for sharing thoughts and insights on hot topics in a blog (this blog here :-).
Overall, the Informatics Alliance is a win-win-win arrangement (yes, it’s indeed a triple win). Firstly, I benefit from the input and expertise of my Informatics Alliance colleagues. Secondly, my Informatics Alliance colleagues benefit from each other’s input and expertise, and as a group we are stronger than just the sum of individuals. And thirdly, from the perspective of our clients, we form a pool of specialists from which the best-fitting expertise can be selected.
We are able to join forces to deliver larger projects, up to global initiatives across several countries and continents, providing the best possible support to you as a client. There are already several examples in which this vision of joining forces has come to life. Most of these projects were for clients in pharma, and I thus can’t disclose them in public. The one I can mention is the RInChI (reaction InChI) project, which was successfully delivered by Gerd Blanke and Jan Holst Jensen. And I am very positive that there is more to come.
Last not least, I want to highlight a completely different aspect (and this probably more for us as Informatics Alliance members rather than for our clients) – the Informatics Alliance is full of great people who I really enjoy talking, exchanging and collaborating with. Thanks Mary Beth, Tom, Gerd, Jan and Nick!
I look forward to the continued fruitful cooperation with my Informatics Alliance colleagues and to many successful projects with our clients!
About the Author
Thomas Doerner is an independent specialist for research informatics in life sciences and chemistry. Located at the interface of R&D and Informatics, Thomas helps his clients in pharma, biotech, and chemistry define, design, and implement solutions that enable scientists, foster more effective R&D, and lay the foundation to achieve better outcomes faster. For more information, visit tdoerner.eu.
About the Informatics Alliance
The Informatics Alliance is a small group of dedicated chem- and bioinformatics experts focusing on serving the life science, agro and chemical industries. Each of us brings many years of experience with research informatics projects and practical implementations. We operate independently but we know and help each other, sharing experiences and expertise, and for bigger projects we join forces, for the benefit of all our clients. With group members based in Europe, the US, Asia, and in four world-leading life science hubs (Boston/Cambridge Massachusetts, Basel Switzerland, Copenhagen Denmark, Shanghai China) Informatics Alliance members can support clients all around the globe.