What’s wrong with the Pistoia Alliance…and why we’re renewing our annual membership! (Part 1)

Pistoia folks have the right attitude (precompetitive work to avoid redundancy), use the right tools (Basecamp), but don’t go nearly far enough.  Although clothed in novelty and open mindedness, it is essentially the same vendors and embracing the same approaches, with evolutionary, not revolutionary, advances.

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The Pistoia Alliance correctly points out the problems in their blog titled two perspectives on innovation:

“We concluded that the fundamental obstacles to innovation reside in pharma’s inability to enable intra- and intercompany information exchange and a general reluctance to let go of unnecessarily individualistic business processes that utilize ill-defined, non-existent, or poorly accepted data and information standards.”  With links to related conversations and the drug discovery world article that we discuss more in part 2.

What’s needed for catalytic change that can improve the economics of all drug discovery research is a more collaborative model.  Data, models and IP can be naturally, fluidly, and securely shared using new collaborative technologies that provide instant collective efficiency for researcher as described in our recent Drug Discovery Today Editorial titled “Alternative Business Models for Drug Discovery“.

Traditional vendors work primarily with the biggest companies in the biopharma industry.  While others zig, we’ve mindfully chosen to zag.  We’ve focused on small, nimble startups, innovative lone academics, distributed screening centers, and even neglected disease researchers.  These are the labs that work on a budget where every penny counts.  Not to eschew the mainstream market, but the writing is on the wall.  A new model is needed.   So we feel it is time for a fresh, clean break.  Then when the collaborative model has been thoroughly and unambiguously proven to be more effective….it’ll no longer be a new model and will for drug discovery just be the way to get things done.   New technologies can remove the distinction between the precompetitive and competitive space, by allowing researchers to select what is private, collaborative, or shared – down to an individual data point for an individual person, up to whole data sets for the whole world.  Clearly there is more to do to naturally support workflows and remove redundant efforts, but collaboration today does not need to be a scary concept.  In the near future, effective collaborations will become the default mechanism for being competitive.


This blog is authored by members of the CDD Vault community. CDD Vault is a hosted drug discovery informatics platform that securely manages both private and external biological and chemical data. It provides core functionality including chemical registration, structure activity relationship, chemical inventory, and electronic lab notebook capabilities!

CDD Vault: Drug Discovery Informatics your whole project team will embrace!