пятница, 21 августа 2015 г.

Innovative Medicines Initiative says its research matches the best

An analysis of journal papers indicates IMI’s research has a high impact, but the partnership’s former head Michel Goldman says bibliometrics do not properly reflect the interests of participants. New metrics are needed to assess interdisciplinary projects
Michel Goldman
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The quality of the science funded by the European Union’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is demonstrated by a detailed analysis of the journal papers it has generated, according to research commissioned by the €3.3 billion public/private partnership.
The bibliometric analysis shows that IMI-funded research stands shoulder to shoulder with research backed by other high-profile funding organisations like the Wellcome Trust, the UK Medical Research Council and the Foundation for the US National Institutes of Health, IMI claims.
By the end of 2014, IMI projects had resulted in 1,134 scientific papers. This IMI research has a citation impact of 2.19, which more than twice the world average of 1.0, and almost twice the EU average of 1.10.
Amongst IMI papers, 24 per cent are categorised as highly cited, which means they are in the top 10 per cent of papers for the journal category and year in which they appeared, in terms of the number of citations received.
The analysis also points to the collaborative nature of IMI research, with almost 60 per cent of all papers featuring authors from different sectors, including universities, pharmaceutical companies, small companies and patient organisations.
Just over half of papers published are by authors from more than one country.
The cross-sector and international roster is significant because papers with authors from multiple sectors or international co-authors have a higher citation impact than papers with authors from a single sector or country.
IMI projects with particularly high citation impacts include those addressing serious diseases, such as Newmeds, which is doing research in schizophrenia and depression; Proactive, which is working on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; U-Bipored, an asthma research programme; and the diabetes project, Direct.
Other projects with a high impact according to the bibliometric analysis are addressing cross-cutting issues in drug development, for example, Biovacsafe, eTox and Safe-T, which are all looking into safety aspects; the drug delivery project Orbito; and the data management project Open Phacts.
Research Agenda
All this will be music to the ears of Pierre Meulein, who next month steps into the position of executive director of IMI, nine months after the previous incumbent Michel Goldman resigned.
During the inter-regnum IMI has been subject to some of the fiercest criticism it has faced since it got off  the ground in 2008, with accusations that the research agenda lacks transparency, is skewed by the requirements of pharmaceutical companies and that the whole programme amounts to a public subsidy to the industry.
In advance of taking up his post Meulein has been careful not to get involved in this criticism, which was sparked by an article in the German news magazine Der Spiegel and taken up by MEPs in debates in the European Parliament.
Speaking to Science|Business soon after his appointment was announced, Meulein refused to be drawn, saying only, “Every initiative has its critics. We should listen. Improvements can always be made.”
Incentivising collaborations
From the perspective of the Der Spiegel accusation of industry bias, a commentary by Michel Goldman on the impact of IMI’s research which appears in this month’s issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology, is not very helpful. In the article Goldman says the bibliometric analysis, “provides evidence of the positive impact of an industry agenda on the output of collaborative non-competitive research.”
The bibliometric study published this month is the sixth such review of IMI’s research. However, in the Nature Biotechnology commentary, Goldman and his co-authors say this type of analysis is not a satisfactory tool for assessing public/private partnerships. “Classic bibliometrics is not suited to measure and incentivise collaborations, which is a key aspect that consortia are leveraging,” they write.
New metrics are needed that reflect the expectations and interests of all the stakeholders, from big pharma to biotechs, basic researchers, clinicians, patients’ groups and funders, Goldman says. Assessment of the impact of large-scale research consortia should be based on a framework that encompasses criteria that matter to both public and corporate funders. 
Such a framework is needed, “to compare and improve the performance of ongoing consortia and establish new ones that are fit for purpose”. In addition, a ‘robust demonstration of the efficiency” of organisations like IMI is required, “to support the assumption that they represent the way forward to boost innovation in the healthcare sector,” Goldman says.

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