Erick Turner, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the OHSU School of Medicine was selected as a finalist in the Open Science Prize. Turner partnered with Ben Goldacre, a British physician, academic, and science writer from the University of Oxford, and their team was one of six teams chosen out nearly 100 submissions.
The Open Science prize, a collaboration between the NIH, the UK-based Wellcome Trust, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, is a recently launched global competition to make both the outputs from science and the research process more accessible to the public. Turner’s project, “Unlocking the FDA trove: Making unbiased clinical trial data accessible,” was born of his desire to make the unique clinical trial data the Federal Drug Administration has collected over the years more accessible and user-friendly. Having worked at the FDA as a reviewer for drugs new to the U.S. market, he witnessed how much data never reaches traditional scientific journal articles. FDA reviews contain detailed information about the methods and protocols of clinical trials as well as complete results of a study whether the outcome is positive or negative. As such, they are generally more informative and “unspun” than what’s reported in journals. This is particularly important when assessing a drug’s efficacy. However, despite the value of these documents, they are incredibly difficult to access, aggregate, and search and are therefore rarely used by clinicians and researchers. Turner and his team want to change that.
The team proposes to produce application programming interfaces that will allow third party platforms to access, search, and present the FDA data. This innovation will enable access to complete and unbiased information which could have a significant effect on clinical decision-making globally.
Turner and his team are hard at work on their final prototype which will be submitted by Dec. 1 2016. The winner is expected to be announced in late Feb. or early Mar., 2017.