SENS5 Video: Talking About Data Infrastructure

This is an era of data in the sciences - endless, vast stores of data, with more pouring in constantly from new studies. In most fields the infrastructure to manage that data is still under construction; in the life sciences, for example, the rapid advance of bioinformatics and biotechnology in general has outpaced the strategies for data management. The data infrastructure is lacking, even as it is being built up rapidly. This has consequences on the efficiency of research and the speed of progress, but researchers are not blind to this present state of affairs.

Here, for example, Maria Konovalenko of the Science for Life Extension Foundation presents at last year's SENS5 conference, calling for better and more systematic management of data in longevity research initiatives - which is effectively a form of advocacy for lowering the cost of exchange of information between research groups.

Traditionally evaluation of age-related changes is performed by physiological, functional and psychological tests, by visual examination and some biochemical analyses. There is a big gap between the molecular data of aging and their implementation in practice mainly because aging data is scarce and it gets lost in the stream of bio-medical knowledge. As we know only a few databases exist that concern the molecular aspects of aging and none of them describes age-related changes and phenotype context like cell type or tissues.

We propose creation of an open web-based Integrated Information System on Aging Biomarkers. The goals of the System: 1. Systematization of data on age-related changes happening on various levels of organization in humans and model animals 2. Systematization of experimantal data on interventions in aging processes in model animals 3. Integration of clinical data on the impact of various interventions on aging processes in patients 4. Creation of a basis for modeling of aging processes, therapeutic interventions and their impact on patients' health and longevity

When development of life extending therapies begins in any earnest way (as opposed the present expensive dabbling with metabolic manipulation to slightly slow aging), it will be necessary to start keeping score and measuring well. Even before then, and as I pointed out above, there is more data than can easily be made useful at this time - that has to change in order to build a better foundation for the next generation of research projects.

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