Seventy Medical Research Groups Join Forces

The new alliance will share and streamline medical data.

Research partnership

Researchers photo via Shutterstock

At its root, medical research is done to help people. Seventy medically-focused organizations all over the world just signed an agreement that will make doing so easier than ever.

Hospitals, labs, and advocacy groups active in 41 different countries will come together to create a streamlined, easy-to-access database of medical research so that the latest groundbreaking genetic and clinical discoveries are available to everyone, not just those who broke the news. Perhaps unsurprisingly, tons of Boston organizations have already signed the white paper agreement, including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Broad Institute, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and Partners Healthcare.

According to the New York Times, the decision responds to fears that as medical research, namely genomic sequencing, becomes more widespread in the coming years, important medical data will be so far-flung and varied that it will be difficult to use effectively. The article quotes Dr. Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health, one of the organizations involved:

“We are strong supporters of this global alliance,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. “There is lots of momentum now, and we really do want to move quickly.”

In addition to sharing information and creating a common format for reporting findings, the alliance is also important because many serious diseases, like cancer, are so complex that studying a small number of patients who have the disease is often inadequate. If data is shared, researchers would be able to cull all the research on the topic and get a bigger-picture analysis. The same idea holds true to very rare diseases and genetic mutations. “Since everyone sees zero or one, no one ever learns,” Dr. David Altshuler, of the Broad Institute, says in the Times piece of the current study-what-you-can system.

As Bostonians, we couldn’t be prouder. While we’ll never stop bragging about our thriving medical community, we’re more than willing to share it, too.