Linking Life Science Data: Design to Implementation, and Beyond

Open PHACTS project closing conference (Vienna, Austria)

On 18–19 February, 2016, we celebrated the completion of the Open PHACTS project with a conference at the University of Vienna, Austria. A total of 79 people attended to discuss the achievements of the Open PHACTS project, what they mean for the future of linked data, and how they can be carried forward.


After a brief welcome from our hosts, Pierre Meulien and Theo Meert began Day 1 with a discussion about the growing importance of collaborations like IMI. Stefan Senger and Gerhard Ecker went on to cover the “real story” of Open PHACTS, and Barend Mons and Ferran Sanz presented their views on how much has changed over the last five years. Several project representatives contributed their thoughts on the role Open PHACTS has played in paving the way for other past, ongoing, and future projects.

After lunch we turned to more practical matters, with presentations on the key deliverable of the Open PHACTS project: the Open PHACTS Discovery Platform itself. These were followed by a series of shorter talks demonstrating various ways the platform can be used.

A poster competition for early career researchers continued the theme of using Open PHACTS, with twelve entries each presenting a unique use case for the platform. Congratulations to poster prize winner Emily Jamieson, for her poster demonstrating an Open PHACTS investigative pipeline, and runner-up Luca Bartek, for her investigation of automated and manual patent extraction methods.

We rounded off Day 1 with a ceremony to mark the official end of the Open PHACTS project, with a symbolic flag handed over from project representatives to the current directors of the Open PHACTS Foundation.

Day 2 began with presentations from Paul Groth and Carole Goble on the future of linked data, followed by contributions from representatives of the pharmaceutical industry on their use of linked data.

We then turned to the all-important question of sustainability of the Open PHACTS project’s outcomes. Dean Allemang described the wider context in which the Open PHACTS Foundation exists, and Nick Lynch explained several options for and benefits to working with the Foundation.

After lunch, Lee Harland’s engaging keynote highlighted five key challenges to the future of linked data, setting the scene for an open discussion about how Open PHACTS and others might meet these challenges. As this discussion drew to a close, Stefan Senger proposed ways in which people can stay involved with the Open PHACTS Foundation now that the project is over.

We would like to thank everyone who attended the conference, and especially everyone who has contributed to the Open PHACTS project over the last five years, for their contributions and hard work.

Conference photos (© Samuel Erik Colombo | Optical Engineers)

Conference background and outline

Full conference agenda

List of conference attendees

Storify round-up of Twitter conversations


Day 1: What has been achieved so far?

How to succeed in public-private partnerships

Changes in the life sciences landscape

The platform today

Using Open PHACTS

Poster competition

Day 2: Where do we go from here?

The future of linked data

How big pharma is using linked data

The role of the Open PHACTS Foundation

Keynote: What challenges still need to be met?