Mendeley-CDD Barry Bunin Interview
Barry Bunin CDD CEO on secure web based drug discovery data collaboration
What was the inspiration for CDD?
ANSWER: I wanted to do something that mattered for individual scientists and the overall efficiency of drug discovery. It is a field with lots of redundancy and waste – some is necessary, but I saw a technical and logical way to avoid most of that waste. Also, I wanted to do work that encouraged collaboration which is a synonym for leverage which is a synonym for efficiency. We saw Collaboration as the key to turning around the macroeconomic challenges of the drug discovery business. We want to create a platform whose value accrued with more software, data, and collaborations. Finally, I wanted the platform to be equally applicable for Neglected Disease, as well as Commercial, collaborative drug discovery.
With CDD, we have the opportunity to broadly transform how research is done. That is inspiring and intellectually interesting.
How do you fit within the ecosystem of collaborative tools for research? Mendeley helps people share collections of research, there’s Figshare for figures, Labguru for lab management, etc.
ANSWER: CDD focused on biological and chemical data. Our differentiation versus the competition is (1) CDD is a much easier system to archive and mine data typically found in Excel® (or .csv or .sdf) files and (2) CDD has unique collaborative data partitioning/sharing features.
On the collaborative side, it is secure, yet usable within regular scientists workflows for sharing the range of data arising from biological experiments down to an individual experimental measurement on one object (i.e. a molecule or antibody) up to batch sharing results from high-throughput experiments.
Being web-based, for heterogeneously biological experiments one can upload most any data into highly configurable protocol readouts…including active hyperlink readouts, in private or public Vaults. CDD has a reference module that integrates with Pubmed, we have a mirror of ChemSpider which links to over 30M molecules on the internet including Pubchem (both within CDD’s secure environment), and we have links from other databases to CDD, like John Irwin’s Zinc database. You can think of CDD as an inside-out version of Sharepoint, Box.net, Dropbox, except instead of being simply a file sharing system, it is a database. CDD can attach files to objects, protocols, runs of protocols, or a secure message board, but it is much more valuable when fully adopted for R&D. For the data in a collaborative database, an analogy we often use to explain this concept is that it is a bit how folks would easily tag photos in Flickr, except instead of saying “cute kittens”, one designates for each set of data which Project(s) (private, collaborative, or public) one wants to selectively and securely share data within. CDD has a REST-based architecture, has made it easy to upload or export data from the application (.csv files, .sdfile, Excel), and is platform independent (IE, FF, Safari, even Chrome), so we can securely hyperlink to or from any of the examples you mention with a unique url. CDD is interesting in that we have multiple levels of security (which has passed big pharma and government audits for private data), yet it does have a piece that touches on all the exciting collaborative innovation on the internet.
How are researchers using Vaults?
…check out the rest of the entrepreneurial interview at http://blog.mendeley.com/