Source: AtanasBozhikovNasko/Getty
Source: AtanasBozhikovNasko/Getty

The tranSMART Foundation and the i2b2 Foundation have disclosed plans to merge, creating a combined open-source foundation focused on healthcare and translational research, which the groups say will be better able to advance precision medicine.

A Letter of Intent to merge has been signed, the non-profit foundations said yesterday.

The tranSMART Foundation provides a global, open-source, open-data knowledge management platform for researchers at more than 300 industry and academic institutions. The i2b2 Foundation—i2b2 stands for Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside—is an open-source software foundation created to oversee the development and governance of the i2b2 platform used by more than 200 U.S. and European hospitals.

The foundations provide open-source software and databases representing more than 100 million patient lives to thousands of physicians and scientists worldwide.

Upon completion of the merger, the foundations said, they will synergize their platforms by elimination duplication; further develop an integrated, open-source platform serving both clinical and translational research; and develop a strong profile and brand for collaboration, fundraising and grants.

The merged foundation will oversee four ongoing projects. One is i2b2, an NIH-funded National Center for Biomedical Computing at Harvard Medical School that is now based at Partners HealthCare. The Center is developing a scalable informatics framework intended to let clinical researchers use existing clinical data for discovery research and, when combined with IRB-approved genomic data, facilitate the design of targeted therapies for individual patients with diseases having genetic origins.

The other three projects:

  • tranSMART, a designed to help researchers accelerate discoveries within complex biological systems. The web portal allows non-specialist users to interrogate data and postulate research hypotheses.
  • i2b2/tranSMART, an open-source platform combining i2b2 and tranSMART
  • openBEL (Biological Expression Language), an open platform for capturing, integrating, storing, and sharing biological knowledge in and across organizations.

As the combined community grows, the Foundation plans to develop additional open-source/open-data projects.

The merged entity, the foundations said, will unite the clinical research and translational research communities, with the goal of promoting effective precision medicine collaborations by enabling the sharing, integration, standardization, and analysis of heterogeneous data from healthcare and research. The combined organization is also expected to better engage and mobilize a life sciences-focused open-source, open-data community.

“Through this merger, we are creating a platform and community that integrates clinical data with translational research data to finally realize the promise that precision medicine has to offer,” tranSMART Foundation CEO Keith Elliston, Ph.D., said in a statement.

Added Diane Keogh, managing director of the i2b2 Foundation: “Bringing our clinical community together with tranSMART’s translational research community through an integrated knowledge management infrastructure will further our mission for precision medicine and ultimately benefit the entire patient community.”

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