Ex-GSK VP heading non-profit dedicated to accelerating research through data sharing

By Melissa Fassbender

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/ipopb)
(Image: Getty/ipopb)
Project Data Sphere aims to accelerate research by providing cancer clinical trial data from various sources to “any and all scientists” – and has named pharma industry veteran Bill Louv as its new president to ensure it delivers.

Louv, a 30-year pharmaceutical industry veteran and former member of GlaxoSmithKline’s corporate executive team, said the new position is an ideal role, as significant portions of his career have been dedicated to statistics, public health, epidemiology, IT and corporate leadership.

“Leading Project Data Sphere brings all of these together,”​ he told us.

Project Data Sphere was established to accelerate research through sharing, integrating, and analyzing historical cancer data. It is an independent, not-for-profit initiative of the CEO Roundtable on Cancer, Inc.’s Life Sciences Consortium.

“Project Data Sphere has achieved much in four years,”​ explained Louv, including the development of a free digital library-data laboratory, the Project Data Sphere cancer research platform​. The platform, launched in April 2014, has since grown to include data from more than 120,000 clinical trial cancer patients.

“Given this foundation of success, scientists are now seeking out Project Data Sphere to enable innovative ideas to derive new insights that are made possible by combining data across trials,” ​Louv said.

“My job is to manage this inflection point while balancing aspirations and operational challenges to ensure that we deliver.”

What is the goal of Project Data Sphere?

“The mission is simple,”​ Louv said: “bring together cancer clinical trial data from industry, academia, and government and make it available to any and all scientists who are seeking to improve the lives of cancer patients.”

However, simple missions are not without challenges. For Project Data Sphere, Louv said the challenges include patient confidentiality, enabling data to be combined across trials, and consideration of data from sources other than clinical trials.

Louv also noted that it’s important that Project Data Sphere is independent and not-for-profit.

“The organization serves cancer patients,”​ he said. “It’s also important that Project Data Sphere follows an open access model, rather than a gate-keeper model. That is, the barriers to access are low by design to enable broader and faster engagement with researchers and data providers.”

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