How to Mine Scientific Business Intelligence in the Cloud

By Frank Brown  |  Posted 2010-01-22 Print this article Print

To transform today's deluge of data into knowledge that drives innovation, scientific organizations need to bring back the contextually-rich collaboration that existed at the company lunch table. Scientific business intelligence solutions are services-based, flexible and designed to handle the complexities of modern research environments. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Frank Brown explains how scientific business intelligence can empower researchers to work together more effectively and make new discoveries in the cloud.

Before the rise of the mammoth database, before e-mail, electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs), and global Centers of Excellence, R&D innovation was centered on personal communication at the company lunch table. It was here that project team leaders-such as the head chemist, pharmacologist, biologist and other select stakeholders-would gather to share their knowledge. The rich insights that resulted led to a significant number of discoveries in areas ranging from pharmaceuticals and consumer packaged goods, to specialty chemicals and heavy manufacturing.

Thanks to the swift pace of technological change, our ability to generate data has increased exponentially. The problem is that there is too much content and not enough context. Raw information dumped into data warehouses has replaced the knowledge-driven categorization and intelligence capabilities that dominated the lunch table.

Disjointed processes and disparate data silos [a product lifecycle management application (PLM) here, a chemistry system here] have replaced collaborative project ownership and decision making. As a result, the most valuable information is often hidden in a deluge of data, inaccessible to the researchers who need them and disconnected from other relevant sources of knowledge.

To usher in a new era of innovation, R&D organizations need to re-create the open, collaborative atmosphere that existed at the company lunch table, but on a scale that embraces the breadth and complexity of today's global scientific information landscape. Here's how.

Frank Brown, PhD, has served as Senior Vice President and Chief Science Officer for Accelrys since October 2006. Frank has extensive experience in the areas of computational chemistry and chemoinformatics. He is responsible for both the scientific direction of the company and all collaborative research with academic, government and industrial partners. Prior to joining Accelrys, Frank held positions of increasing responsibility at Johnson & Johnson, most recently as senior research fellow within the Office of the CIO. In this position, Frank oversaw the development of architecture for all R&D in the organization's pharma sector. Before Johnson & Johnson, Frank started the first chemoinformatics group in the industry at Glaxo Research Institute, and launched software products targeted to the pharmaceutical industry as vice president for product and business development at Oxford Molecular Group. Frank has also served as an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has also served as a chair for the American Chemical Society (ACS), Computers in Chemistry section, and on an NIH Special Study. Frank holds a PhD in physical organic chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh and a post-doctoral studies degree in bio physics from the University of California at San Francisco. He can be reached at

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