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DREAM Challenges Announces Changes in Its Leadership That Support a Rich Future in Open Benchmarking

DREAM Challenges has announced changes to its governance and leadership to reflect its vision for future growth. DREAM is a volunteer organization of more than 30,000 solvers focused on crowd-sourced challenges to benchmark informatic algorithms in biomedicine. The peer-based governance process has been formalized by charter and will be led by a volunteer board of directors, with a rotating chair position. Dr. Justin Guinney, VP of Computational Oncology at Sage Bionetworks, is the new chair.

Sage Bionetworks has partnered with DREAM since 2013, providing the technology platform, governance protocols, and data science expertise that underpin DREAM Challenges. The DREAM methodology has already been adopted by other groups that host challenges. By assuming a key role in the charter, Sage is making a clear commitment to upholding and growing DREAM’s mission to enable collaborative science.

DREAM was founded in 2006 by Dr. Gustavo Stolovitzky, who announced this week at the 14th DREAM Challenges Conference in New York that he would be stepping back from actively leading the organization, though he will remain involved. Dr. Stolovitzky, the Director of the IBM Translational Systems Biology and Nanobiotechnology Program at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, will continue to support the mission of DREAM as Chair Emeritus and DREAM Board Director.

“I’m proud of the community we’ve created with the DREAM Challenges,” said Dr. Stolovitzky. “Our approach has confirmed that data sharing and collaborative science is a powerful methodology not only for scientific research, but also for the rigorous evaluation of algorithmic performance that is necessary for reproducible science. There is much to discover yet and it will be a pleasure to watch DREAM evolve under Justin Guinney’s creative leadership.”

Dr. Guinney, who has served on the DREAM board since in 2013, will work closely with Dr. Stolovitzky and the board to develop a vision for how to extend the reach of DREAM Challenges to untapped domains that are poised to benefit from crowd-sourced solutions. Dr. Guinney’s contributions to DREAM have focused on advanced predictive modeling in diagnostic mammography screening and drug combination therapy; prognostic modeling in breast and prostate cancer and multiple myeloma; and, recently, a benchmarking challenge using electronic healthcare records.

“The power of DREAM is the power to connect,” said Dr. Guinney, whose work at Sage Bionetworks focuses on integrative data analysis for prognostic and predictive modeling of cancer outcomes and response to therapy. “Building on the foundation of our past successes, DREAM will continue to serve its mission of connecting individuals and teams with data and algorithms to tackle complex biomedical questions.”

Under Dr. Stolovitzky’s leadership, DREAM evolved into a model of how to use crowdsourcing and open science in biomedicine, with first-of-its-kind Challenges that led to scientific insights in a wide range of research topics, including biological network inference, cancer genomics and pharmacogenomics, predicting disease progression, and medical imaging among others. DREAM has launched more than 60 challenges that have engaged and touched the careers of thousands of scientists from dozens of institutions across the public and private sectors around the world.

“Having been involved with DREAM all these years, it’s an honor to help usher in the next generation of Challenges,” said Dr. Guinney.

In addition to Drs. Guinney and Stolovitzky, other board directors include: Dr. Laura Heiser, Oregon Health Sciences University; Dr. Paul Boutros, University of California, Los Angeles; Dr. James Costello, University of Colorado; Dr. Pablo Meyer, IBM; and Dr. Julio Saez-Rodriguez, Heidelberg University. More information about the DREAM leadership and governance can be found at www.dreamchallenges/people.

ABOUT DREAM CHALLENGES

DREAM (Dialogue on Reverse Engineering and Assessment Methods) Challenges emerged in 2006 to leverage the wisdom of the multidisciplinary scientific community to solve fundamental and difficult questions in biomedical research. DREAM’s methodology is based on crowd-sourcing scientific Challenges, fostering open and collaborative research, and promoting data sharing. In 2013, DREAM partnered with Sage Bionetworks, which developed and administers the technology platform that underpins DREAM Challenges.

ABOUT SAGE BIONETWORKS

Sage Bionetworks is a nonprofit biomedical research and technology development organization that was founded in Seattle in 2009. Our focus is to develop and apply open practices to data-driven research for the advancement of human health. Our interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers work together to provide researchers access to technology tools and scientific approaches to share data, benchmark methods, and explore collective insights, all backed by Sage’s gold-standard governance protocols and commitment to user-centered design. Sage is a 501c3 and is supported through a portfolio of competitive research grants, commercial partnerships, and philanthropic contributions.

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