COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator Donors Launch International Alliance to Connect Research Data Sources and Enable Collaboration

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COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator Donors Launch International Alliance to Connect Research Data Sources and Enable Collaboration
International COVID-19 Data Research Alliance and Workbench will bring together data to
accelerate the search for new therapies to fight the pandemic and save lives

SEATTLE, JUNE 26, 2020 – The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator donors and partners today announced the formation of the International COVID-19 Data Research Alliance to accelerate clinical research on COVID-19. Composed of academic institutions, research organizations, life sciences and technology companies, and philanthropies, the International Alliance was created to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, but with the promise for use across other health conditions, including readiness for future pandemics.

Accelerator donors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Mastercard, Minderoo Foundation, and Wellcome, will be founding members of the International Alliance. It will be managed by Health Data Research UK, a national institute for health data science with expertise in harnessing data at scale to improve people’s lives, working in partnership with alliance partners from life science companies, academic institutions and clinical research organizations from around the world.

The current pandemic has prompted a great deal of research, but there are few environments where data sets generated by previous studies and trials can be accessed to inform research and development efforts. These data sets could address key questions about the course of COVID-19, how it impacts the body, and what treatments might be effective. In many cases, relevant data sets exist, but researchers cannot easily access or link them for integrated analysis. The International Alliance will provide a variety of ways for researchers to collaborate on data—from pooled to federated analyses—for trustworthy, privacy-protected, and ethical research as determined by a governance board of global specialists in the field.

“In a pandemic, the pathogen has the upper hand. We know very little about it, so access to information becomes an important commodity,” said Trevor Mundel, president of global health at the Gates Foundation. “By entering into agreements on data sharing up front, we can avoid wasting time going down blind alleys, ultimately saving lives by getting definitive answers to key questions more quickly. This grant to form an international data alliance will accelerate efforts and provide a legacy for future collaboration on pandemics. We encourage others to join us and the other founding partners in this important initiative.”…

An Analytical Workbench for Scientific Inquiry
The Workbench will connect to regional and national data infrastructures used by International Alliance members, such as data generated by Therapeutics Accelerator-funded trials, pharmaceutical industry partners, the national BREATHE health data research hub in the United Kingdom, SAIL Databank and others to be confirmed in the coming months. The Workbench, developed by Aridhia Informatics, will enable the discovery of data relevant for answering priority questions from its own repository and federated repositories, and will provide a secure location where analysts can work collectively on a target research hypothesis. Data access and use will be conducted in accordance with the governance requirements of individual data controllers from countries around the world, in a transparent and ethical manner. Authorized users will be able to bring their data to the Workbench and collaborate with others in a secure environment. The Workbench will be designed to encourage and enable responsible data use, including transparency, ethical review, privacy, and data protection…