Up at 5AM: The 5AM Solutions Blog

Number 9

Posted on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 @ 01:25 PM

The annual Bio-IT World conference in Boston was a convenient marker for 5AM as it landed so close to the time of the year when we first launched - May 1, 2003. As 5AM closes our 8th year in business, the future looks bright. When we started 5AM we believed the industry was at the dawn of the next generation of science and medicine (really, see video :)). While we've joked we should have named ourselves "2AM," given the total progress of the biomedical industry embracing technology toward solving the major issues, there is plenty to celebrate and much to look forward to.

The Bio-IT conference itself has grown (reportedly up to 2000 registrants, double from 2 years ago) and in walking the aisles this year, I was pleased to see both familiar faces (colleagues, clients and competitors alike) and new entrants. The world Bio-IT represents and has garnered interest from has also grown and is no longer niche. The initial impetus for us creating 5AM - bringing professional software engineering to the life science domain - has evolved into a more strategic focus coinciding with the broader convergence of life science and health care that provides both concern and hope. The concern is that the convergence doesn't create enough value fast enough to overcome the tension across entrenched cultural, political and business interests. The recent stimulus packages sponsoring HIT adoption and biomedical research and development could go for naught. The hope is that the overwhelming need to reduce the cost of health care, drug development and the precision of care along with the research (and software) required to make it possible will become a focus and a benefit for the industry and the country.

I was fortunate to be offered the chance to speak to a crowd of mostly biologists and researchers (only two vendors in the audience of 60 or so folks!). The purpose was to discuss new collaborative models for science and business that caBIG® fosters and I took the opportunity to discuss open source's place as well. If you're interested, you can download the presentation here, but in essence, during the 15 minutes allotted, we identified the major open source projects employed from a domain independent perspective (e.g., Linux, JBoss, MySQL) to those that are domain specific, such as caBIG® and i2b2. Walking through the principles about open development and the resulting transparency created, the idea that data is more valuable when available to other systems and the generous business friendly license model, underscores why it's an enabler of innovation. We have benefited from both serving the direction of the NCI and being able to pull from the tool belt provided to support customers who were trying to push the boundaries of the status quo with limited means. Being able to reliably reuse components, create reciprocal value, invent where there's need, and focus on delivery of value (versus lines of code) further instills hope. We're not alone in using technology to help converge science and medicine to benefit people. Some days, that 2AM does feel like 5AM. Bring on the dawn.

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