DIFUTURE Consortium: Data Integration for Future Medicine
Logo DIFUTURE

Cross-institutional data integration and sharing will be vital to tomorrow’s medicine. DIFUTURE aims to provide medical professionals and researchers with data of comprehensive depth and breadth – to improve healthcare processes, accelerate innovation, and achieve tangible benefits for patients.

DIFUTURE comprises three German Universities of Excellence and their affiliated hospitals, plus additional clinical partners. The result is a unique synthesis of knowledge from the fields of medicine, informatics, biostatistics and bioinformatics. The consortium’s international connections are a further strength.

The DIFUTURE consortium will be funded by BMBF during the development and networking phase, starting in January 2018.

Development and networking phase

Data integration centres

DIFUTURE data integration centres are modular, extensible, and standards-based. Specifically, data integration encompasses the harmonisation of data and processes, with a focus on ensuring high data quality. In order to guarantee interoperability, DIFUTURE deploys commercially available components with open source software. Privacy and protection play a central role, e.g. via security by design, data minimisation, and layered data security. DIFUTURE’s analyses and studies will employ distributed approaches – and will therefore prioritise method transfer rather than data transfer.

Use Cases

Use case 1: multiple sclerosis (MS)

The consortium’s doctors and scientists are active in MS research, in basic research, and in national and international groups. Data have already been integrated to enable distributed analyses. A key focus is the identification of markers and algorithms to predict the course of the disease, and allow targeted, personalised treatment from an early stage. The spectrum of integrated data is broad, ranging from clinical and laboratory data on multi-dimensional images to genetic information. It is possible to make use of extensive, largely standardised data collections.

Use case 2: Parkinson’s disease (PD)

DIFUTURE’s use cases are designed for broad applicability. For example, the integration and analysis methods employed for the MS use case can be transferred to the work on Parkinson’s disease. The latter project, too, will entail the harmonisation, quality assurance and integration of diverse types of data. These data can be used for analyses within and beyond the consortium. All DIFUTURE use cases – including for rare illnesses, cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular disease – are aimed at enabling precision medicine. The goal is to significantly improve treatment, (early) diagnoses, prevention and aftercare.

Data use and access concept

Data use is based on Germany-wide agreements for the Medical Informatics Initiative, and on in-depth preliminary work at national and international levels. DIFUTURE will follow the principles of the GO-FAIR initiative – i.e. data findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability. Patient trust, free choice, and personal data sovereignty are central elements. To guarantee very high standards of data protection, the consortium deploys innovative methods, such as distributed computing and machine learning, plus systematic risk analyses

Measures to strengthen medical informatics in Germany

DIFUTURE is establishing new professorships (see below) and curricula.

  • Embedded intelligence for healthcare and well-being (appointment grade: W3)
  • Bioinformatics/data mining/data analytics (W3)
  • IT Infrastructures for translational medical research (W2)
  • Medical knowledge management and clinical decision support (W3)
  • Mathematical modelling and simulation of biological processes (W3)
  • IT systems in healthcare, eHealth and mHealth (W3)
  • Diagnostic sensors (W3)
  • Visualisation of medical data (W3)
  • Visual analytics of big data in the life sciences (W1)
  • Methods in medical informatics (W3)
  • Applied medical informatics (W3)
  • Intelligent knowledge extraction in medicine (W3)
Consortium leader
Head
Prof. Dr. Klaus A. Kuhn
Telephone
+49 894 1404 320
Consortium partners
Head
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Mansmann
Telephone
+49 894 4007 4491
Head
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Oliver Kohlbacher
Telephone
+49 707 1297 0458
Head
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Bauer
Telephone
+49 821 5982 118
Head
PD Dr. Christian Stephan
Telephone
+49 234 5888 210
Network partners
Head
Prof. Dr. Stefan Wagenpfeil
Telephone
+49 684 1160 / +49 684 1162 2060
Head
Prof. Dr. Oliver Kölbl
Telephone
+49 941 9445 801
Associated partners
Head
Luiz Olava Bonino da Silva Santos, CTO FAIR Data
Telephone
+31 853 0307 11
Head
Kevin Fitzpatrick, CEO
Telephone
+1 571 4831 300
Head
Prof. Dr. Annette Grüters-Kieslich, Coordinator
Telephone
+49 304 5056 6261
Head
Dr. med. Wolfgang Krombholz
Telephone
+49 895 7093 0
Head
Bradley Malin, Ph.D.
Telephone
+1 615 3439 096
Conceptual phase

During the conceptual phase, DIFUTURE harnessed the expertise of four partners – Technical University of Munich, Ludwig Maximillian University Munich, Eberhard Karl University Tübingen, and University of Augsburg – to improve the use and exchange of data from healthcare and clinical/biomedical research across multiple institutions, and to verify value added.  

To this end, it was vital to develop corresponding organisational and technological solutions. DIFUTURE created concepts for data integration centres (DICs) and for use cases that would demonstrate the tangible value of data exchange. In preparation for the conceptual phase, the consortium defined eight use cases. Disease-focused cases included neurology, cancer and cardiology. A neurology use case will be audited. Furthermore, DIFUTURE will strive to generate synergy across the chosen fields.

The conceptual phase culminated in a funding application for the initiative’s development and networking phase. DIFUTURE submitted detailed plans for further evolving the consortium partners’ relevant infrastructures. This included technological and organisational measures, and actions to strengthen medical informatics.

Consortium leader
Head
Prof. Dr. Klaus Kuhn
Telephone
+49 894 1404 320
Funding Ref. No.
01ZZ1603A
Funding amount
152.093 EUR
Duration
01.08.2016 - 30.04.2017
Consortium partners
Head
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Mansmann
Telephone
+49 897 0954 491
Funding Ref. No.
01ZZ1603B
Funding amount
89.454 EUR
Duration
01.08.2016 - 30.04.2017
Head
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Bauer
Telephone
+49 821 5982 118
Funding Ref. No.
01ZZ1603C
Funding amount
28.199 EUR
Duration
01.08.2016 - 30.04.2017
Head
Prof. Dr. Oliver Kohlbacher
Telephone
+49 707 1297 0457
Funding Ref. No.
01ZZ1603D
Funding amount
89.996 EUR
Duration
01.08.2016 - 30.04.2017