Giles Day, Senior Director of the Targets and Mechanisms Informatics Group for Pfizer is in charge of a group dedicated to supporting Pfizer’s deep knowledge of targets and pathways research strategy. Essentially that means delivering informatics solutions that ensure the researcher is picking the most appropriate target to impact disease, that they will have higher confidence in mechanism and safety. These systems are then developed and maintained by Day’s group. Three areas that they are currently focusing are pathway sciences, semantic technologies and simplifying the R&D sector.
Pathway sciences is one of the main issues that Day is focusing on. Pathway sciences is about developing and implementing a global enterprise scale pathway knowledge base so that scientists can mine, model and manipulate powerful biological pathway models and share those across the enterprise. Day explains that Pfizer has been looking at a mixture of vendor supplied and internally configured and developed solutions in order to help them develop their pathway sciences. “A lot of the pathway area is driven by content, which will be supplied through third party companies, so we are looking at partnerships with vendors for that solution area,” explains Day. He goes on to say that most of his work will be based on integrating platforms and developing applications that sit on top of those to generate new insights into the data. “Fundamentally I focus my group on providing new business value, things like architectural components and the basic underpinnings of collecting data and manipulating and maintaining data are obviously important but at the end of the day they don’t bring new business value,” remarks Day.
Day has previously spoken about the potential power of applying a semantic web tool. The semantic web is essentially the vision of what the internet would look like if everyone deployed semantic technology. “Semantic technologies for us are based on ontologies that describe our data and allow us to connect disparate data together to form interesting new relationships,” says Day. This basically means which diseases are connected to which pathways, and which have what safety effects. Day is looking for the right semantic technologies to enable his scientists to make the right decision about targets much more quickly and discover knowledge about those targets.
We are really starting to see some semantic technologies being deployed at Pfizer for real world uses so as a strategy semantics are becoming more crucial to data integration problems. “Semantic technologies should be a consistent thread that runs through everything we do, and it’s genuinely exciting,” remarks Day.
A simplified R&D organization is tremendously valuable to someone who works in that organization. Since Day has been at Pfizer he has seen it go from two large sites to around eight and now back to five, which makes his life a great deal easier. “Obviously having less stakeholders for informatics platforms makes life easier – as there are less people asking you for different ideas, disparate scope for your development platforms,” says Day. With the amount of change that Pfizer has undergone in the past year it has meant that it is difficult to stay engaged on certain projects. However, Day remains positive and as he has already had the chance to focus his group in research informatics he can see how much it will impact the entire organization as they deliver.
About the contributor
Giles Day joined Pfizer in 1995 from Manchester University’s School of Biological Sciences where he completed a BSc in Biology and a MSc in Computational Biology. He spent five years in Sandwich helping to establish Bioinformatics as a discipline. In 2000, Day moved to the then Disocvery Technology Center in Cambridge MA and the Research Informatics Group, becoming Director of the group in 2004. In his current role, Day utilizes his extensive experience in the space and capitalizing on the value of emerging and innovative technologies.
At the September 2007 NGP Discovery & Development Summit in Arizona,Anthony Ford-Hutchinson led a fascinating workshop on the prioritization of...
Dr. Thomas Chan, SVP of Discovery and Development at ArQule gives NGP his insight into what a small biotechnology company are concentrating on in the...
Dr. Richard Polisson is one busy man. As well as being the Senior Vice President of Clinical Research for Genzyme, overseeing the design and implementation of clinical...