The 10th Open Targets Integration Day

Life at Open Targets Jul 18, 2017

Every year Open Targets holds three Integration Days bringing together scientists from our partners; Biogen, EMBL-EBI, GSK and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute to learn more about our different projects, discuss progress and generate new ideas.

On the 28th of June we held our 10th Integration Day at the Granta Centre in Cambridge UK with 85 attendees. Our day began with a brief warm welcome and introduction from Open Targets Director Jeff Barrett and then a few Open Targets scientists shared short talks on their project progress including results in the Oncology and Immune system domains.


After the delicious lunch where attendees had the chance to catch up with current and new members, the afternoon focused on interactive workshops.

The first session was run by Ian Dunham our Scientific Director and Jo McEntyre and Senay Kafkas from EMBL-EBI Literature Services team. Participants formed small teams of 3 to 4 people to test the performance of Open Targets Platform text mining algorithm that searches the literature for Target - Disease evidence. By identifying True and False positives the teams built a picture of any systematic omissions that could be used to improve even further this element of the platform.

In parallel a small group of 6 attended a user experience session with Niki Karamanis, our User Experience Designer, testing new tools for exploring the published literature in the Open Targets Platform.


After a quick refreshment break (with cake to keep the sugar levels going) the group split between the next set of parallel hands-on workshops.

Led by Ian and Oliver Stegle our joint EMBL-EBI Scientific Lead, small teams of 3 to 4 people were asked to explore the nature of the current target-disease association score used in our Platform, discuss potential improvements and possible new scores that could enhance the existing functions.

At the same time Andrew Leach and Paula MagariƱos from ChEMBL, plus Gautier Koscielny and Andrea Pierleoni from our Platform Core team held a group discussion on what information from clinical trials can be used to help identify and prioritise targets, sharing experiences and challenges using public and commercial resources.

The user experience session focused on a new web resource called DoRothEA created by Gareth Peat from the Platform Core team. DoRothEA is a free tool that provides a graphical visualisation of transcription factor activity in cancer cell lines and the relationship to drug sensitivity. This new tool supports the latest paper by Luz Garcia-Alonso et al, Transcription factor activities enhance markers of drug response in cancer and is now available online.


The day then closed as the group welcomed John Todd from the University of Oxford who gave a great keynote talk sharing his experiences translating genetics to new therapeutic strategies.

The Integration Days are some of the highlights in the Open Targets calendar and showcase the vibrant research community that has built up around the Open Targets partnership to transform drug discovery by tackling attrition the source, through the systematic evaluation and prioritisation of drug targets.