The Power of Partnership to Accelerate Scientific Discovery


Power of Ideas - Future of Health Summit 2019

The Power of Partnership to Accelerate Scientific Discovery

Manuel Guzman
Manuel Guzman
(President, CAS)

Treating and curing disease is among the most aspirational and impactful goals of scientific research. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and depression affect 40 percent of the US population and account for more than 75 percent of all health-care costs. Nearly 2 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the US alone this year. 

These statistics demonstrate the urgent opportunity inherent in accelerating the pace of health-care innovation, particularly in the area of drug discovery. The motivation to advance discovery of new life-saving treatments and enhance existing therapies is clear. However, as health-care R&D organizations strive to build more robust innovation pipelines, there is tremendous uncertainty about what strategies and investments will prove most effective in achieving those aspirations.

Solving the Innovation Equation 

So how can we make life-saving progress faster? Technology seems like an obvious answer, and it is certainly part of the innovation equation. However, technology alone is unlikely to drastically accelerate health-care innovation. Why? Because the success of technology is highly dependent on the quality of the inputs it receives. Garbage in, garbage out as they say. In the case of scientific innovation, the key input that technology consumes is data, making it a second critical component of the innovation equation.

We certainly don’t lack for data these days. In fact, the volume of published scientific information is growing at an exponential rate. However, data that are being published all over the world in different formats and languages are diverse and disconnected, making it overwhelming to source, manage, and utilize for innovation. To be of greater value to the innovation process, all this disparate information must be collected, structured, curated, and connected. That work requires human expertise—the third and most important part of the innovation equation.

Just like a chef prepares food for human consumption, scientists and technologists must prepare data for effective use in innovation by researchers, analytics engines, or AI algorithms. When paired with high-quality data sources, today’s artificial intelligence technologies are already powerful and getting better every day, uncovering insights that humans are unlikely to synthesize alone. However, without human insight, these technologies can just as easily lead you in the wrong direction as the right one.

As a specialist in scientific information solutions, CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society, unites all of these components—high-quality content, specialized technologies, and human expertise—to help innovation-focused organizations achieve their highest aspirations. With expertise across the spectrum of science and technology and fluency in more than 50 languages, our team brings a truly global perspective to their work of building and curating the world’s largest collection of human-indexed scientific content, empowering innovators with solutions to access this information, translate it into actionable insights, and apply those insights at every step in the discovery process to accelerate life-changing outcomes.  

Partnering to Get There Faster 

Setting a clear innovation strategy that leverages high-quality content, specialized technologies, and human expertise to maximize innovation potential is just the beginning. In reality, many organizations struggle to gain measurable value from initial investments in technology, expertise, and/or data management. This is not surprising. Activities such as technology development and information management have not traditionally been core competencies of scientific research organizations. Thus, quickly ramping up these capabilities is difficult and resource-intensive. 

Partnerships are proving to be an effective way for research organizations to reap the benefits of these strategies more quickly while maintaining flexibility to pivot as technology and the landscape evolve. Identifying partners with deep expertise, data, or technology assets to complement their core capabilities is proving highly effective for research organizations seeking to quickly build the foundation to catalyze digital transformation in their innovation processes. 

At CAS, we believe that the next great wave of innovation will be found at the confluence of emerging information technologies, high-quality scientific data, and human expertise. We take pride in empowering research leaders to solve the innovation equation, igniting the engines of discovery that will ultimately improve countless lives around the globe. 

Published October 22, 2019