Open Science Prize voting and notes


6 teams are finalists for the Open Science Prize, a global science competition for new products or services to advance open science. No Wikipedia article yet, but add facts to the Wikidata item. According to the prize FAQ the finalists, chosen by experts, will each receive US$80k. Public voting will result in a shortlist of 3, with the winner of an additional $230k again chosen by experts.

I skimmed material from the finalists and it appears they are all solid projects with substantial commitment to openness, though I wish their source code was easier to find, and some may not have published much. I was mainly looking for the project that seemed nearest to the commanding heights – drug development – or otherwise best positioned to expand policy imagination for what advancement is possible and preferable to organize as a commons.

The Fruit Fly Brain Observatory stood out to me in all respects except for source code: their licenses page has a link for source code, but currently only for the project’s informational static website. Excerpts from their prize page:

FFBO enables the investigation of mechanisms underlying neurological disorders and potential therapies by configuring, simulating and interrogating fly brain models developed by different researchers. These models can then help predict the effects of pharmaceuticals upon neural circuit functions, significantly shortening the amount of time it takes to develop new drugs.

The FFBO platform challenges existing models of knowledge creation in neuroscience. It provides the framework and tools to build and simulate fly models of neurological diseases using data and models developed by the community of researchers at large. By providing a model architecture upon which researchers can build, share, compare, refine and validate models of neuropil compartments, constituent circuits and connectivity maps, FFBO will unify and support the research efforts of labs around the world, accelerating the pace of discovery and the translation of fundamental neuroscience research into drug, cell and gene therapies.

In addition to pitching for funding for further hackathons, software development, and services (again, where’s the source?) for their platform, their closing comment is very welcome:

We believe that the time is right to bring the fruit fly brain community together with the goal of elucidating its function in health and disease in the next 10 years. A major international activity as part of an International Brain Station might be a good starting point. We are not asking here for additional funding support but rather for a co-ordination of the funding organizations (NIH, NSF, Wellcome Trust, HHMI, etc.) that support fruit fly brain research and ask for a mandate that all data and code generated from this research are published in an easily accessible form from a single integrated data repository.

Public voting runs through 2017-01-06. Voters rank their top 3 of the 6 finalist proposals. I’m planning to rank FFBO first, OpenTrialsFDA second, and I’m not sure about third.