CDD CEO Dr. Barry Bunin Discusses Collaborative R&D with Hassan Masum at the Results for Development Institute
Hassan Masum's interview with CDD CEO Barry Bunin was posted on the Results for Development Institute blog as part of the "Global Health R&D Policy Assessment Center Project" funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Transcription of beginning of the interview
Hassan Masum Barry, thanks so much for speaking with us today. What is the goal of CDD?
Barry Bunin Sure. We’re focused on open innovation, but from a very pragmatic perspective. Because we are a business, we need to not only have good ideas—they need to be pragmatic. They need to make black-and-white economic sense.
In global health, we have worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on tuberculosis. Our work encompasses the full spectrum of working with industry, working with academics, working with foundations, institutes and even government labs.
What we do is we support collaborations. CDD is all about collaborations.
Hassan Masum Can you tell us about your collaborative technology?
Barry Bunin What’s interesting from a technology perspective is we allow people to have secure data partitioning (selective and fine-grained data sharing) to support different business models and intellectual property rights. The irony is the more that you give people the power of having data secure, and partitioning, and knowing that for commercial interest they can protect it—the more they are actually able and willing to collaborate.
We have the full spectrum: from private for one group only, to collaborative where two or more organizations can work as if one, to completely open in public. The tools have advanced for the chemical and biological data, for the science of discovering new drugs, handling the ADME-PK-tox-animal type data (for pharmacokinetics, toxicity, and so forth). Companies that are purely in the for-profit mode are using this now—like a venture capital funded startup, or an academic lab looking at some commercial area like cancer.
Hassan Masum So what does that imply for drug discovery?
Barry Bunin The new part is having it be collaborative in people’s natural workflows. You can share even one measurement from one day—one experiment with all the detail of the graph, the image, the numbers, the chemical structures—and do that with anyone around the world.
This has been what’s really held up drug discovery relative to progress with the computer industry. There’s a lot of reinventing the wheel in our field.
The big breakthrough here was being able to handle the security in data and the IP issues, and giving people the control to make it as private or as collaborative or as public as they want. Control can be temporal control, it can be by project, it can be by data types.
It started with no one using this. A little bit like the fax machine is not very useful when you have one person with a fax machine, but when everyone has one it becomes taken for granted—ubiquitous. We had 28,000 logins in the past year and have had eight years of a perfect security record hosting the data in the cloud, and so now it’s becoming more and more accepted.
Beyond how much or how little people want to share data, there’s another challenge which people are generally less aware of: just getting the data into the database. If you can put one compound into the clinic, you will test dozens in animals, hundreds in cells, thousands or millions in enzyme assays. We handle the data on those aspects. The question of sharing data and collaborating openly is one problem that gets all the attention, but the other problem of capturing the data in a useful easy way is just as important.