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The importance of Big Data and Open Data to achieve scientific advancements in precision medicine is beyond doubt and evident in many different projects and initiatives such as the Precision Medicine Initiative (All of Us), ICTBioMed, NCIP Hub, 100K Genomics England Project, NIH Cancer Moonshot, and the Million Veterans Program. In April 2013, McKinsey & Company proclaimed that Big Data has the ability to revolutionize pharmaceutical research and development within clinical environments, by using data for better informed decision making and targeting the diverse user roles including physicians, consumers, insurers, and regulators. Companies from a wide spectrum such as Oracle Health Sciences, Google, and Data4Cure build solutions that help address efficient and secure data sharing with the patient or clinician in mind. Open data can be maintained and shared by patient communities such as PatientsLikeMe.com and build an invaluable resource for further data mining.
Even with all these advances there are still challenges to address including a recent Precision Medicine World Conference announcement in November 2016: “We are missing easy-to-use solutions to share patient data.” Science gateways are a solution to fill the gap and help form by definition end-to-end solutions – web-based, mobile or desktop applications - that provide intuitive access to advanced resources and allow researchers to focus on tackling today’s challenging science questions. Science Gateways abstract the complex underlying computing and data infrastructure as far as feasible and desired by the stakeholder and can be tailored to different target groups with diverse backgrounds, demands, and technical knowledge.
Science Gateways have existed for over a decade and a wide variety of frameworks and APIs have been developed to support the efficient creation of science gateways and ease the implementation of connections to Cloud infrastructures and distributed data on a large scale. The importance of science gateways has been recognized by NSF by funding the creation of a Science Gateways Community Institute (SGCI) to serve the community with free resources, services, experts, and ideas for creating and sustaining science gateways. To achieve this goal, the SGCI serves the community with five areas that have diverse foci and which also closely interact: Incubator, Extended Developer Support, Scientific Software Collaborative, Community Engagement and Exchange and Workforce Development.
The Institute is technology-agnostic and serves the community by offering a wide variety of services and using technologies that are the best fitting solution for the use case. Gateways allow for precision medicine to be more efficiently developed or adapted by lowering the barriers to data sharing and Big Data analysis.