All posts by Mad Price Ball

About Mad Price Ball

Executive Director of Open Humans Foundation and Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow.

Remembering Steven Keating

This last weekend I was saddened to hear about the passing of one of our Board of Directors – Steven Keating, an inspiring activist and advocate for access to health data.

Steven Keating passed away on Friday, at the age of 31, ending his battle with brain cancer. When he was first diagnosed, Steven was a graduate student at MIT. His natural curiosity led him to collect and share diverse data about his cancer and treatment.

He shared all sorts of data, video of his brain surgery, and – most memorably – 3D printed copies of his tumor. You can read more about his life in this remembrance on MIT News: “Celebrating a curious mind”. Steven advocated for the importance of access to our health data: to explore, to use, and to share.

As a person, Steven was positive. Amazingly positive. It’s a lesson that helped me on a personal scale: sometimes bad things happen, but I learned that it’s still possible to face them with positivity. Steven taught by example.

When Steven’s “silly tumor” came back a year ago, he told me he wanted to keep serving as normal, as long as he felt able. And he did. He shared his experimental treatments with us during meetings. He had marked “yes” to a board meeting this Monday. He was with us as long as he could be.

He will be missed. My life is a better one for having known him.

Our new 2019 Directors

I’m thrilled to announce the results of our 2019 elections for the Open Humans Foundation Board of Directors!

Our community seat winner is Marja Pirttivaara, and our board-elected seats are Gary Wolf and Sasha Wait Zaranek.

Marja Pirttivaara: When I first met Marja at the MyData conference in 2018, it was wonderful to find a like-minded soul — between her interests in genetics and in empowering individuals with their personal data. Marja generously agreed to our EU representative for GDPR, and it’s been exciting to see our project become more global.

Gary Wolf: As co-founder and director of Quantified Self Labs, Gary has supported numerous citizen scientists in their quest to use their personal data to understand themselves, and to collectively create new knowledge. His work is strongly aligned with that of Open Humans, and we very much looking forward to his contribution and leadership.

Sasha Wait Zaranek: Sasha is one of the founders of the Harvard Personal Genome Project and continues to lead in this area. Their focus is on genome data: they want to see that data managed by the people it came from, more understandable, and more re-usable for new projects — and they want to help Open Humans make those things happen.

Marja, Gary, and Sasha join our ongoing board members: Mad Price Ball, Karien Bezuidenhout, Steven Keating, Dana Lewis, and James Turner.

We must bid farewell to Misha Angrist and Michelle Meyer — their terms have ended. Both have been involved with the organization for many years, and we hope this is not the last we see of them! We must also bid farewell to Chris Gorgolewski, who has resigned; his 2018 seat is being left vacant for now. Also, we’ve made the voting results from the 2019 Community Seat election available here: http://openhumansfoundation.org/2019-ohf-election-votes.csv

We’re honored by the contribution of every board member, and their collective stewardship of our project. And we’re honored by all candidates for these positions. Not everyone can win — indeed, it would be a poor election if we didn’t have people to choose between. We very much hope other candidates remains involved — there are so many things to do together!

2019 Board of Directors Candidates

The self-nomination period for our Board of Directors is over and we are excited to share this year’s candidates! We hope to begin the community seat election sometime next week, followed by a board ratification of this vote and election of two additional seats.

Benjamin Carr

Links
https://twitter.com/BenjaminHCCarr
https://github.com/BenjaminHCCarr/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/bencarr/

I have been involved with and contributing to open source software, and like-minded communities for over 20 years now. I, like others, in OH am a firm believer in open science, open data, and open access. I was an early enrollee in Harvard-PGP, excited by the promise of enabling precision medicine and an open dataset for researchers to use. I hold a Ph.D. in biology from Boston University and have worked professionally in academic, NGO, government, and private industry.

My expertise bridges multiple areas of science having worked in oceanography, satellite remote sensing, AUVs, marine biology, and bioinformatics, as well as being involved with the 9/11 impact assessment of the Hudson River. I have also been running the OH Facebook account for the last two years. In 2018 I was lucky enough to have a hand in facilitating and doing QA/QC on a portion of the NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase Consortium, and have high hopes that at least one fully open source stack emerges from that endeavor.

Vero Estrada-Galiñanes

Links
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/veronicaestrada/
MyPage: https://sites.google.com/view/veroeg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GalinanesVero
DSS workshop paper: https://arxiv.org/abs/1809.01974

I am passionate about trustworthy storage systems and digital archives. I am an active member of Open Humans. My interest is mainly focused on: 1) new storage solutions for OH data and 2) better data visualisations of life-logging data collections. I am also co-author of the Open Humans open collaboration article.

My vision about an open health archive was presented during the Data-Driven Self-Regulating Systems (DSS) Workshop in 2018. The main concept is to preserve the health-related data generated throughout the life of an individual without giving away data ownership while promoting open data and data sharing. I keep working on these ideas.

My recent experience comes from postdoc roles (storage systems / distributed systems).  I am a former postdoc at the Quality of Life Technologies (DIKU). Prior to academic jobs, I had leadership roles in the industry and government. I have experience in making sense of large databases. I collaborate with the SciEd Network (Lectures without borders).

Beau Gunderson

Links
Homepage: https://beaugunderson.com
GitHub: https://github.com/beaugunderson

I am a previous employee of Open Humans (2014-2016). Prior to 2014 I worked at Practice Fusion on the Data Science team, and from 2016 to the present I’ve worked at Canvas Medical building electronic health record software for primary care practices. My recent work at Canvas has focused on security and privacy (I am now the security and privacy officer in addition to my engineering duties).

Since leaving Open Humans as an employee I have been an active user of the project. I’ve also maintained a presence on the OH Slack and GitHub as well as offering my review of projects on the Project Review forum.

I believe I would be most useful in the realms of security and privacy and software development guidance.

Nathaniel Pearson

Links
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/GenomeNathan
Blog: http://genomena.com/
Slides about various projects: https://www.slideshare.net/NathanielPearson
Talks:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZX0culYjU_A (whole-genome talk) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxkL-KtUaJY (HLA talk)

Exploring what inner data say, about our health and history, has long driven my work. And teaming with fellow geeks, caregivers, and layfolk has made that a joy. The chance now, to help guide how we Open Humans bring our big ideas to life, as an anchor cohort for the biodata-informed future, would fulfillingly continue that effort. To that aim, I bring strong grounding in genomics, a passion to learn new stuff (hello microbiomes!…), and team spirit.

Background-wise, I trained in evolutionary genomics at Stanford and U. Chicago, led collaborative science at ships both small (Knome) and big (New York Genome Center), and teach genetic counseling students as guest faculty at Sarah Lawrence. To help folks pool personal biodata to drive crowd discovery, I launched the Empowered Genome Community in 2012 and recently founded the free, good cause-allied personal immunogenomics company, Root, to honor tissue donor volunteers with well grounded insights from their own match-screened genes.

Marja Pirttivaara

Links
Linked In: https://fi.linkedin.com/in/pirttivaaramarja
Twitter: https://twitter.com/marja_p?lang=en
Blog: http://www.dnaguru.fi/
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FinlandDNA/

I’m a Finnish PhD (physics) and MBA (social and healthcare management), working at the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and also an unpaid visiting researcher of the University of Helsinki (DNA related issues). I’m a genetic genealogy expert, admin of Finland DNA project with more than 15 000 members, admin of Finland DNA Facebook group, with 7 700 members. I’m also a founding member of MyData Global. I’m a practical and knowledgeable bridge builder, always curious about the future. I’m just waiting for my whole genome results.

My vision of Open Humans is a trusted global platform and actively cooperating community for fair & responsible sharing and utilizing personal data, mydata, tools and creating best practises.

As a Finn and European and a genetic genealogy & genome data expert (etc) I’d like to contribute to the Open Humans humans community.

Gary Wolf

Links
http://quantifiedself.com

By vocation I’m a journalist but since 2008 I’ve been focused on supporting the Quantified Self community as Director of Quantified Self Labs, a California based social enterprise whose mission is to help people learn from their own data. We’ve been allies and active collaborators with OH. Our most recent collaboration involves using OH to support a participant led research project (PLR) focused on self-tracking of ovulatory cycles. I’m aligned with the Open Humans mission to both support individual agency in using our own personal data to answer our own questions; and, in supporting the formation of new collectivities for shared knowledge making. I’m also closely aligned with the OH approach and cultural roots in the open source community. I look forward to helping.

Alexander (Sasha) Wait Zaranek

Links
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wait_sasha
Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=Ifj9cY0AAAAJ&hl=en
Orcid: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0415-9655

I am head of quantified biology at Veritas Genetics, the first company to introduce whole genome sequencing and interpretation to consumers and their physicians for under $1,000. My current research is focused on the delivery of real-time, biomedical insights from massive data sets, spanning millions of individuals across collaborating organizations, eventually encompassing exabytes of data. I am also a co-founder of the Harvard Personal Genome Project.

My hope is that Open Humans becomes a central, global hub for participatory research and participant led data sharing much as Wikipedia has become a hub for sharing facts. Specifically, I will use my relationships with the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH), NIH common fund, , the NIST “Genome In a Bottle” reference material consortium, and the global Personal Genome Project (PGP) organizations to further the integration of Open Humans with other local, national and international biomedical data sharing efforts.

Inviting candidates for our board

In upcoming weeks Open Humans Foundation will be electing three new members to our Board of Directors. Two seats are elected within the board — and one is a community seat chosen by Open Humans members!

Anyone may apply to our board. The process involves a self-nomination, and nominees should be seconded by a current member of the Board of Directors. Board seat terms are three years.

At this stage we are inviting self-nominations. Being a director of this organization is a position of trust. It is our highest tier of governance – our ultimate decision-making authority. You can learn more about our organization’s governance by visiting the website: http://openhumansfoundation.org/

Our deadline for self-nominations is March 15. Please self-nominate by completing our self-nomination form: https://goo.gl/forms/P3eCAmExACoJ0P3Z2

About Open Humans: Open Humans is a US-based nonprofit website and community that helps individuals aggregate personal data, explore and analyze it, and choose to contribute data to academic research and community/citizen science projects. Visit the website to learn more: https://www.openhumans.org

You’re also welcome to chat with us and other Open Humans members in our community Slack chatroom! See: http://slackin.openhumans.org

Help us resurrect OpenPaths!

Four days ago Facebook announced it is killing Moves, a smartphone app that lets you collect your continuous GPS data. People could download their location data, donate it to research, and connect it to other apps.

Soon Moves will be dead – and there is no obvious replacement. But there could be.

OpenPaths is a similar tool, developed seven years ago by a team at the New York Times Research & Development Group. It had an ethos that matched our own – it empowered its users, gave them access to their data, and the ability to share with projects. The NYT team handed OpenPaths to an academic group at UCSD. And late last year, UCSD gave it to us.

OpenPaths was like Open Humans before we existed – and by some amazing act of fate, we have inherited it. It could be something better than Moves: a nonprofit, open source tool that strives to empower the community that maintains it.

But OpenPaths is broken, and we need help to fix it!

We need an iOS developer, and an Android developer. We’re also seeking a full time Django developer for our main site, who might also help build a new OpenPaths server.

Please help and spread word! Come chat with us in our community Slack, and share our jobs page to help us find developers that can help.

Announcing our new Directors for Open Humans Foundation!

With an enormous thank you to all our candidates – and the members that voted –  I’m thrilled to share our three new members of the Board of Directors for Open Humans Foundation!

Community Seat: Dana Lewis

As the first winner of the Community Seat election, we’re thrilled to have Dana representing the interests of the Open Humans community. Dana is a pioneer in open source and health, including her leadership of the inspiring OpenAPS community and work connecting this community to research. You can read more about this – and how Dana has used Open Humans – in her post on our blog: “Why Open Humans is an essential part of my work to change the future of healthcare research”

Full vote tallies of the community election were as follows: Dana M Lewis (92), Alexander (Sasha) Wait Zaranek (60), Embriette Hyde (53), James M Turner (33), Katarzyna Wac (28), Richard Sprague (23), Chris Gorgolewski (16)

We are also thrilled to introduce two new board-elected directors!

Board-elected Seat: James Turner

James is one of the earliest and most active members of the Open Humans community, and has been profiled on our blog as well! Having joined through participation in the Personal Genome Project, James went on to create some of the first projects in our site – including an Apple Health import app that has been used in downstream academic research. In addition to his long commitment to this community, James brings valuable practical experience in managing nonprofit organizations, having created and managed his own charitable 501(c)3 for several years.

Board-elected Seat: Chris Gorgolewski

Chris is an academic in the field of neuroscience, interested in expanding the use of Open Humans among traditional researchers. Chris has promoted neurological research data sharing through his work with Neurovault, OpenNeuro, and reusable data sharing language for consent forms. Chris brings to the board a new facet of research, and an interest in promoting the use of Open Humans in studies — including the return of valuable data to participants to enable both individual access as well as re-use in new research.

Finally, I want to thank the candidates who volunteered to become members of our board. Candidates took time to communicate with us and with the community, and we are honored by the visions you shared with us. There were more excellent candidates than we had seats to fill! But there will be seats again, and we hope you continue to be part of Open Humans as some of our most brilliant members, colleagues, and advocates.

2018 Board of Directors candidates

The self-nomination period for our Board of Directors is over and I am happy to announce that 10 eligible candidates are on the ballot!

At our annual meeting on March 26, two board-elected seats will be determined from these candidates. And following this, members of Open Humans will be invited to elect the third “community” seat! We invite you to learn more about the candidates by reading the introductions and further links below.

 

Benyam Alemu

About me

I am a national nonprofit leader, educator and researcher. I bring a
fascination for the applications of computation in biology –
through both bioinformatics and digital health to a an
entrepreneurial background.

My experiences range from leading companies, serving on institutional
steering committees, designing university coursework, creating
research experiences and influencing educational policy.

My vision for Open Humans is for it to also be used as a tool used by
other institutions to expose graduate students, underclassmen and
K-12 students alike to participatory methods of initiating and
conducting collaborative computational research.

Websites / Links

James M. Turner

About me

I have always had a passion for science, especially genetics. I ended up in software instead, but have continued to follow the field as an adult. I joined the Personal Genome Project in January 2011, and have been an activate participant ever since.

I organized and ran the PGP Participant’s Forum. I have also created several tools for the Open Humans API, including the HealthKit Uploader app.

I also have a second career as a freelance writer. I have written for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor, and have also written 3 books on software development. I also am the president and chairman of the board of a 501(c)3 public charity that has raised over $250,000 for cancer research, among other causes.

I think that I could leverage both my experience in journalism and in fundraising to assist the board in it’s duties. I would like to see OH work to expand the number of participants with active datasets so that the statistical power of the data would be increased.

Websites / Links

Dana Lewis

About me

I am passionate about open source and open science efforts. I’m one of the creators and the first users of an open source artificial pancreas (e.g. hybrid closed loop) system to make life with type 1 diabetes easier. My skillset ranges from non-traditional technical skills to communication and strategy. I’m dedicated to taking what we’ve learned in the diabetes community & sharing these lessons learned with all communities. To that end, I’m also a RWJF grant-funded principal investigator, studying the processes of patient-driven and patient-led innovation research, with goals around scaling effective processes and collaborations between traditional and ‘new’ stakeholders. I’ve used OpenHumans for ~2 years now, and believe it plays an integral role in enabling individuals to share data and facilitate new research efforts. My vision is to help support and scale the organization to continue to meet the needs of these new stakeholders and communities.

Websites / Links

Cameron Colby Thomson

About me

I am an entrepreneur, open source advocate, and PGP participant. My interest in open humans centers around the profound impact of genetics on our future as a species. As a board member of the Human Rights Foundation, and with organizations in life and health insurance, I am also deeply interested in the societal impact of sharing information which may allow third parties to predict our traits available in the public domain. I believe my primary contribution, aside from experience in board governance, would be to offer the board due diligence capacities in better understanding these risks and opportunities and communicating them to external stakeholders in stewardship of the foundation. More details and background are available on my website.

Websites / Links

Alexander (Sasha) Wait Zaranek

About me

I am head of quantified biology at Veritas Genetics, the first company to introduce whole genome sequencing and interpretation to consumers and their physicians for under $1,000. My current research is focused on the delivery of real-time, biomedical insights from massive data sets, spanning millions of individuals across collaborating organizations, eventually encompassing exabytes of data. I am also a co-founder of the Harvard Personal Genome Project.

My hope is that Open Humans becomes a central, global hub for participatory research and participant led data sharing much as Wikipedia has become a hub for sharing facts. Specifically, I will use my relationships with the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH), the NIH data commons pilot, the NIST “Genome In a Bottle” reference material consortium, and the global Personal Genome Project (PGP) organizations to further the integration of Open Humans with other local, national and international biomedical data sharing efforts.

Websites / Links

Embriette Hyde

About me

My passion for sharing science with the public started in graduate school, when I realized that scientists do a bad job of explaining their work to the broader community. This is critical — public perception of science has downstream effects on funding. A major roadblock is a misunderstanding of the scientific process and timeline. Citizen science projects help fill this knowledge gap by giving people the opportunity to contribute to science and experience it first hand. One of my most fulfilling experiences was managing the American Gut Project, which is part of Open Humans. Open Humans encourages people to support citizen science, and the dataset integration it promotes is critical for making precision medicine a reality in healthcare. My vision for Open Humans includes establishing educational efforts such as more regular and varied blog posts, short video blogs, and online courses — including a hands-on course on how to interpret scientific papers.

Websites / Links

Richard Sprague

About me

For decades, I’ve managed consumer-focused software products at places like Apple, Microsoft, and numerous startups because I believe technology is a great equalizer, transforming society by putting powerful computing tools within the reach of everyone. An early and active fan of OpenHumans, I think science too can be transformed if we make personal health and self-tracking data openly accessible to all curious people.

Like most OpenHumans users, my background is outside the world of professional science or academia.  As a former product developer, big company exec, and entrepreneur, I want OpenHumans to appeal to all ranges of expertise, in every part of the world, because the ability to do science shouldn’t depend on your background or your current skill level.  To do this, I’d like to help OpenHumans (1) improve its visibility through world-class marketing and promotion, (2) expand internationally and (3) remain the best place for sharing, exploring, and analyzing humans.

Websites / Links

Katarzyna Wac

About me

Katarzyna Wac is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at University of Copenhagen (DK) University of Geneva (CH), affiliated with Stanford University. Her research appears in more than 100 to date peer reviewed proceedings and journals in computer science, human-computer interaction and health informatics. She is a (co)-PI in several European, Swiss and Stanford Medicine projects. Dr. Wac leads Quality of Life Technologies lab researching how emerging sensor/actuator-based mobile and wearable technologies can be leveraged for a personalized assessment of the individual’s behavior and Quality of Life (QoL), as they unfold naturally over time and in context, and improvement of the latter. The vision for Open Humans is to enable individual’s short-term behavior and long-term QoL assessment and improvement based on the crowdsourced efforts of the donors, social and behavioral, as well as data scientists and practitioners leveraging the results for better QoL-enabling services.

Websites / Links

Chris Gorgolewski

About me

My life’s mission is to accelerate the progress of science by making as much data accessible to as many researchers as possible. Most of my work has focused on brain imaging data. I built a platform for sharing results of neuroimaging experiments (https://NeuroVault.org), as well as one for sharing raw neuroimaging data (https://OpenNeuro.org – formerly known as OpenfMRI). I have also been promoting ethical data sharing by providing ready to use text for participant content forms (http://open-brain-consent.readthedocs.io/en/latest/ultimate.html). I would work with the Open Humans Foundation to help integrate it with existing open neuroimaging databases and getting their participants involved in additional follow-up data collection via the Open Humans platform.

Websites / Links

Nomi L. Harris

About me

I have been involved in the world of bioinformatics for decades. I have a master’s degree in Medical AI. Most of my work experience has been in bioinformatics rather than medical informatics, but I would love to get involved with something more directly relevant to health.

I have chaired BOSC (the Bioinformatics Open Source Conference) for the last 8 years. Under my leadership, BOSC has flourished and become more diverse in both content and attendance. I am also a board member for the Open Bioinformatics Foundation.

In addition to helping OHF communicate using social media and other online mechanisms, I’d like to help organize events to bring OHF community members together to exchange ideas and meet face-to-face.

Websites / Links

OHF Board of Directors: Self-nominations invited

Dear Open Humans community,

Our nonprofit organization, Open Humans Foundation, will be having its annual election next month for its Board of Directors. Three of our nine seats will be up for election and, while current board members are invited to re-apply and continue their service, not all are planning to do so.

I’m also delighted to share that we have restructured our organization’s governance to create “community seats”. One of the three seats this round will be chosen by Open Humans members!

Anyone may apply to our board. The process involves a self-nomination, and nominees should be seconded by a current member of the Board of Directors.

Being a director of this organization is a position of trust. While I manage day-to-day operations, the board is our highest tier of governance – our ultimate decision-making authority. Many board members also contribute to the organization as officers, e.g. as secretary or treasurer. As Executive Director, I serve at the board’s behest.

You can learn more about our organization’s governance – including current board members, bylaws, and standing rules – by visiting the organization website here: http://openhumansfoundation.org/

Please self-nominate by completing our self-nomination form. Our deadline for self-nominations is March 12.

We expect our board-elected seats to be determined at our annual meeting on March 26, and we look forward to holding a community election following this. Please stay tuned!

Sincerely,

Mad Price Ball
Executive Director, Open Humans Foundation

Genevieve now analyzes private data!

Genevieve Genome Report is a tool that takes genome, exome, or 23andMe data and produces a report comparing your genome to the “ClinVar” database – a public compilation of publish reports and databases.

This might uncover reports about to rare variants with potentially dramatic effects: people typically carry several “recessive diseases”, and this report might uncover some of yours. But it might also uncover mistakes in the literature! Research is messy, and so is this. To help everyone sort through the evidence, Genevieve also invites users to edit collaborative notes regarding reported effects.

As such, the tool is not a clinical tool, no more than Wikipedia is! It’s open source, freely shared, and intended for collaborative learning. It’s my own personal project – and I’ve extended it to enable private data analysis, and empower more folks to explore their data.

Why Open Humans is an essential part of my work to change the future of healthcare research

Madeleine: I’m excited to share a Q&A with an innovator – Dana Lewis!

Dana was recently awarded a grant to further her work in patient-driven research, and she’s been using Open Humans in an exciting way. You can follow her on Twitter at @DanaMLewis.


So, what do you like about Open Humans?

Health data is important to individuals, including myself, and I think it’s important that we as a society find ways to allow individuals to be able to chose when and how we share our data. Open Humans makes that very easy, and I love being able to work with the Open Humans team to create tools like the Nightscout Data Transfer uploader tool that further anonymizes data  uploads. As an individual, this makes it easy to upload my own diabetes data (continuous glucose monitoring data, insulin dosing data, food info, and other data) and share it with projects that I trust. As a researcher, and as a partner to other researchers, it makes it easy to build Data Commons projects on Open Humans to leverage data from the DIY artificial pancreas community to further healthcare research overall.

Wait, “artificial pancreas”? What’s that?

I helped build a DIY “artificial pancreas” that is really an “automated insulin delivery system”. That means a small computer & radio device that can get data from an insulin pump & continuous glucose monitor, process the data and decide what needs to be done, and send commands to adjust the insulin dosing that the insulin pump is doing. Read, write, read, rinse, repeat!

I got into this because, as a patient, I rely on my medical equipment. I want my equipment to be better, for me and everyone else. Medical equipment often isn’t perfect. “One size fits all” really doesn’t fit all. In 2013, I built a smarter alarm system for my continuous glucose monitor to make louder alarms. In 2014, with the partnership of others like Ben West who is also a passionate advocate for understanding medical devices, I “closed the loop” and built a hybrid closed loop artificial pancreas system for myself. In early 2015, we open sourced it, launching the OpenAPS movement to make this kind of technology more broadly accessible to those who wanted it.

You must be the only one who’s doing something like this.

Actually, no. There are more than 400+ people worldwide using various types of DIY closed loop systems – and that’s a low estimate! It’s neat to live during a time when off the shelf hardware, existing medical devices, and open source software can be paired to improve our lives. There’s also half a dozen (or more) other DIY solutions in the diabetes community, and likely other examples (think 3D-printing prosthetics, etc.) in other types of communities, too. And there should be even more than there are – which is what I’m hoping to work on.


So what exactly is your project that’s being funded?

I created the OpenAPS Data Commons to address a few issues. First, to stop researchers from emailing and asking me for my individual data. I by no means represent all other DIY closed loopers or people with diabetes! Second, the Data Commons approach allows people to donate their data anonymously to research; since it’s anonymized, it is often IRB-exempt. It also makes this data available to people (patient researchers) who aren’t affiliated with an organization and don’t need IRB approval or anything fancy, and just need data to test new algorithm features or investigate theories.

But, not everyone implicitly knows how to do research. Many people learn research skills, but not everyone has the wherewithal and time to do so. Or maybe they don’t want to become a data science expert! For a variety of reasons, that’s why we decided to create an on-call data science and research team, that can provide support around forming research questions and working through the process of scientific discovery, as well as provide data science resources to expedite the research process. This portion of the project does focus on the diabetes community, since we have multiple Data Commons and communities of people donating data for research, as well as dozens of citizen scientists and researchers already in action (with more interested in getting involved).

What else does Open Humans have to do with it?

Since I’ve been administering the Nightscout and OpenAPS Data Commons, I’ve spent a lot of time on the Open Humans site as both a “participant” of research donating my data, as well as a “researcher” who is pulling down and using data for research (and working to get it to other researchers). I’ve been able to work closely with Madeleine and suggest the addition of a few features to make it easier to use for research and downloading large data sets from projects. I’ve also been documenting some tools I’ve created (like a complex json to csv converter; scripts to pull data from multiple OH download files and into a single file for analysis; plus writing up more details about how to work with data files coming from Nightscout into OH), also with the goal of facilitating more researchers to be able to dive in and do research without needing specific tool or technical experience.

It’s also great to work with a platform like Open Humans that allows us to share data or use data for multiple projects simultaneously. There’s no burdensome data collection or study procedures for individuals to be able to contribute to numerous research projects where their data is useful. People consent to share their data with the commons, fill out an optional survey (which will save them from having to repeat basic demographic-type information that every research project is interested in), and are done!

Are you *only* working with the diabetes community?

Not at all. The first part of our project does focus on learning best practices and lessons learned from the DIY diabetes communities, but with an eye toward creating open source toolkit and materials that will be of use to many other patient health communities. My goal is to help as many other patient health communities spark similar #WeAreNotWaiting projects in the areas that are of most use to them, based on their needs.

How can I find out more about this work?

Make sure to read our project announcement blog post if you haven’t already – it’s got some calls to action for people with diabetes; people interested in leading projects in other health communities; as well as other researchers interested in collaborating! Also, follow me on Twitter, for more posts about this work in progress!