Prof. Bob van de Water

The Program Manager

What is the best way to manage, integrate and share data coming in from many different sources? We put the question to someone who is at the extreme end of data management: Professor Bob van de Water, coordinator of EU-ToxRisk, the largest programme in toxicology funded by the EU with 39 partner organisations across the continent.

EU-ToxRisk is an Integrated European ‘Flagship’ programme driving mechanism-based toxicity testing and risk assessment for the 21st century. EU-ToxRisk aims to ensure a paradigm shift in toxicological testing by delivering testing strategies that enable reliable, animal-free hazard and risk assessment of chemicals. Bob van de Water is Professor of Drug Safety Science and chair of the Division of Drug Discovery & Safety within Leiden University’s Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR).

What are some of the challenges of managing the data of EU-ToxRisk?

In EU-ToxRisk, we are leading 10 case studies with different partners in different disciplines, all generating their own data which, at some point, should be in the common domain! We needed a database to link it all together so we have a particular work package devoted to that in which EdelweissData™ has played a leading role. The presentation of the data is very important because we must be able to use it in a meaningful fashion and build a coherent infrastructure. EdelweissData™ provided a structured, linked sharepoint database where we store all biostudies in an efficient way for the workflow and how we use datasets generated in the project.

How important is integrated data analysis for your goals?

Extremely important, for example, in the context of certainty analysis. You need the different datasets so that statistical analysis can come to conclusions about which components are most favorable in the context of testing strategy. By combining all the data, you get an understanding of the value of individual datasets in providing certainty that chemicals are safe or not.

Industry has sometimes found it difficult to take the findings from research projects and use them in their own settings. Can EU-ToxRisk change this?

We have work packages whose particular concern is to integrate different platforms and experimental testing and bring value together. A project recently started with Syngenta where we are bringing together procedures for testing chemicals to determine whether our methodology can help provide greater certainty. We want to see how our data management platform can be used in future commercial settings to make workflows reproducible and we are working together to see if there are commercial possibilities beyond the pilot phase. Some of our partners are already looking to build spinoffs.

And can this platform also be valuable to regulators?

Yes, and that’s a very important point. We made sure that some of our partners in EU-ToxRisk are from the regulatory arena. They helped us create the templates for our case studies that we now use to report our findings in a structured way to reach conclusions about chemical safety.

About Edelweiss Connect

Edelweiss Connect has developed computer software that helps combine data from many different sources and formats into a useable form for evaluation and re-use. In addition, we have developed other software programs that can use the collected data and data from in vitro tests to predict the safety of chemical compounds in the human body.


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