It has been discussed that we should perform“ Health Research” which enables us to make use of the fruits of latest life science research and to return it to the society as a more advanced treatment method, medicine or medical instrument. To this end, the Health Research Promotion Council was established in Japan under the control of the Cabinet Office in 2008. In the“ Health Research Promotion Strategy” proposed by the Council, it is recommended that we establish“ the circulation of knowledge” loop in the medical science and clinical services by clarifying the mechanism of life phenomenon and diseases, converting the clarified mechanism into diagnostic and treatment methods, identifying new research subjects through assessing the effectiveness of the methods, and carrying out research on the identified subjects.
Based on these trends, JST-CRDS provided Strategic Program entitled“Development of Translational Health Informatics Base”, in which the importance of information technology infrastructure is pointed out for the establishment of knowledge circulation structure across clinics and research laboratories. Further more, JST-CRDS executed international benchmarking survey to add more powerful and concrete promotion framework to the Strategic Plan by comparing the provided research and development strategy with those have been partly worked in the United States and European countries. In the benchmark survey, we analyzed following points; 1) current states of collection, storage, and extraction of large scale data in both life- and health-science fields, 2) incentive strategy to motivate the date providers, and 3) technical and systematic issues to be solved for better use of clinical informatics in basic and medical sciences. We also carried out the fact-finding mission with eminent researchers who have world-wide networks in the related fields to investigate clinical informatics in the United States and integrative research project across clinical- and bio-informatics and its technological infrastructure in European Union countries (Germany and United Kingdom). As a result, following facts were found and confirmed.
Health Informatics industry is growing in the U.S. Insurance companies and IT companies are key players in this industry, and they provide government agencies, health care providers, research institutes, and employers with large-scale health care data. Because health care cost turns to be a burden for both private and public sector, there is strong inventive to utilize such data for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of care shared across the health care field. Regarding privacy issues around health care data, not only privacy protection but meaningful data utilization is aimed in regulations. There is no problem pointed in our discussion related to technical aspect of the database development.
Importance of pan-European information technology infrastructure has been pointed out by ESFRI (European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures), and several related projects have already started. However, systematic flaw including financial cooperation was recognized as the bottle neck to progress the framework plan and technical development. The observation suggested that the recent deterioration in economic conditions caused the various reaction toward the priority of science and technology policy across the affiliated countries.
Since the execution of Third-Basic Program for Science and Technology, several projects have been worked for the large-scale data management in life science field. FY 2010 is the preparatory periods for the integration of two major projects, “Basic Program for Science and Technology (funded by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, MEXT)” and “Institute for Bioinformatics Research and Development (BIRD) (funded by JST)”, which is expected in FY2011. There are other individual projects related to public data source, large-scale clinical informatics, and government agency research program, it is still on the process to big achievement.
Taken together with whole results, JST-CRDS would provide following strategies for the implementation of the?“Development of Translational Health Informatics Base”.
Even there would be strong consensus and expectation for the establishment and usage of nation-wide large scale and open access database linking clinical and bioinformatics, buildup of fundamental technologies is not sufficient in common across the World. Therefore, the JST-CRDS’s strategic program of THIB is highly enough motivated and prompt investment would bring national interests to Japan.
It is highly expected for international contribution by Japanese technology that the global promotion of element technology development based on the current demand of information technology infrastructure development in each country or across countries.
For the above global promotion, one should rank the THIB as a part of global strategy in information technology and execute careful feasibility survey to search the market in target countries and institutions.
In order to improve the validity of THIB, more ingenious attempt would be needed to establish the framework that clinical informatics including epidemiology data become more applicable for basic researchers with novel scientific questions.
The result of the current benchmarking survey would be used for externalization of the research and development strategic plan provided by “Development of Translational Health Informatics Base”