New initiative aims to improve access to PTSD research

Fraunhofer SCAI, Cohen Veterans Bioscience and Exaptive Collaboration Seeks to Close the Knowledge Gap on PTSD

Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing (SCAI), Cohen Veterans Bioscience and Exaptive Inc. today announced a new initiative to improve access to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) research. The creation of a PTSD KnowledgeMapTM
will systematize the current PTSD research space and provide interactive tools for scientists and others studying PTSD.

In the U.S. alone, approximately 8 million adults - both civilian and military populations - will experience PTSD in a given year, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD. According to a 2013 World Health Organization report, an estimated 3.6% of the world's population had suffered from PTSD in the previous year.

Post-traumatic stress puts a significant strain on families, employers and civilian and military healthcare systems. Despite a number of groups actively investigating PTSD, there is currently no easy way for researchers, policymakers and others to know what areas of study are most active, who is working on what, and where funding is or should be going. In fact, in the past 35 years, more than 100,000 peer-reviewed scientific articles have been published on PTSD. This important body of work forms the basis for many ongoing and future investigations.

The PTSD KnowledgeMapTM will bring together research on clinical symptoms, biomarkers, genetic variation, epidemiological studies and many other factors deemed relevant for PTSD. It will include easy-to-use interactive visualizations for people to search vast data in an accessible manner. The partnership will also establish an ongoing process for incorporating new research as it becomes available.

"There has been and will continue to be a wealth of PTSD studies conducted around the globe yet there is no main repository to catalogue the valuable findings that will result," says Magali Haas, MD, PhD, CEO & President of Cohen Veterans Bioscience, the lead funder of the initiative. "Many research endeavors overlap. Our goal is to centralize information and produce a blueprint for global PTSD research. This partnership will harness the novel computational information retrieval system developed by Fraunhofer SCAI and the innovative analytics conceived by Exaptive to create a new data mining tool."

"Despite popular opinion, just amassing data will not by itself lead to insight," says Dave King, Founder and CEO of Exaptive. "Without the ability to quickly and easily navigate data, the information remains largely unusable. We are excited to be working with Cohen Veterans Bioscience and Fraunhofer SCAI to help bring this data to life for such an important area of study."

Adds Martin Hofmann-Apitius, PhD, Head of the Department of Bioinformatics at Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing, "The consortium brings together world-class expertise in the area of PTSD and computational neurology, the competency for visualization of complex processes and relationships and the expertise in the area of information retrieval and disease modeling. While it is extremely challenging to model something complex like PTSD, we are optimistic that together with Cohen Veterans Bioscience and Exaptive we can fully represent the state of knowledge in the clinical and molecular context."

The new interactive tool for exploring PTSD research will be made available later this year. The computable model and the software environment supporting exploration and mining of the knowledge map will be shared with researchers worldwide in order to foster rapid uptake of computational systems biology approaches in translational PTSD research.


Cohen Veterans Bioscience


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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