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Organizing vital data to unlock innovation from Brazil’s biodiversity

min read

Consider a family photograph collection started long ago, pictures amassing over the years. Gathering all the images in one place, say a shoebox, as many people do, doesn’t really add value or make it more useful. Finding the image you are looking for takes a lot of time, and it is difficult to then share with others. As such, your shoebox collection often goes untouched and unused, forgotten in a closet.

With today’s digital tools, searching, sharing and organizing your photos is easier than ever before. Now, you can quickly upload images into organized collections that can be viewed around the world. With such resources available, people are moving away from scattered shoeboxes stuffed with pictures, choosing instead to curate powerful collections digitally.

Scientists are faced with similar challenges with their valuable research data. Simply collecting and gathering content is not enough; without proper structure and organization, innovators cannot fully utilize this information. A robust data foundation is crucial for nearly all R&D activities, from day-to-day research to implementation of digital technologies like AI, predictive analytics and machine learning.

Preserving Brazil’s biodiversity

While hosting 15-20% of Earth’s biological diversity, a substantial part of Brazil’s abundant biodiversity remains underexplored. A lack of organized information made it exceedingly difficult for researchers to search, screen or even compare relevant chemical substances. This was hindering their ability to identify new targets, build on prior discovery and drive innovation.

As a result, researchers at the State University of São Paulo (IQ-UNESP) sought a better way to make relevant information on the unique Brazilian biodiversity accessible. The increased urbanization and deforestation endangering rare species were intensifying the need to systematically curate data. Unless samples were processed and categorized quickly, information regarding the substances could be lost forever.

The need to preserve valuable information was magnified in 2018, when a fire consumed the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, impeding research with the permanent loss of rare samples. In response, CAS experts extended support to the scientific community in Brazil, partnering with IQ-UNESP to manage and organize information on natural bioactive compounds to ensure it will be available for future research.

The collaboration between the scientific information specialists at CAS and natural product researchers in Brazil resulted in an organized and refined collection of natural products. Data is being systemized into the publicly accessible Nucleus for Bioassays, Biosynthesis and Ecophysiology of Natural Products (NuBBE) Database, a project initiated by Dr. Vanderlan Bolzani (Institute of Chemistry of the São Paulo State University – IQ-UNESP) and Dr. Adriano Andricopulo (São Carlos Institute of Physics of the University of São Paulo – IFSC-USP).

The team at CAS used their in-depth scientific knowledge and expertise in managing data to extract and process information from over 30,000 relevant scientific publications. The resulting content collection maximizes access to and increases the utility of Brazil’s natural, bioactive compounds to support innovation.

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Download the case study now to learn more about how collaboration between CAS and IQ-UNESP resulted in a data collection of over 54,000 substances of Brazil’s rich biodiversity.

Organized and accessible data empowers insight

Efficiency is key to timely innovation. Discoveries are hindered when scientific information is not accessible, searchable or reliable. In fact, data integrity and accessibility issues cause 10-20% of all development work to be repeated. Research teams, therefore, need seamless access to a wide range of consistent and accurate scientific and business information, or risk expensive delays and errors.

The volume and complexity of scientific information has exploded in the last few decades, creating a chaotic landscape of disconnected and unorganized data. Even internal systems have a variety of sources contributing data in different of formats and levels of quality. As such, creating and maintaining a well-organized, searchable data repository is a challenging feat but more important than ever.

According to the FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship, it is essential that data be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. Cleaning and normalizing data with the correct semantic meaning and connections is difficult and requires specialized skills and a significant investment of resources. As a result, many organizations are engaging external experts, such as CAS, to quickly and cost efficiently unlock the power of their data.

Scientific expertise maximizes the value of data

A strong foundation of consistent, validated data ensures your teams and technology can progress efficiently. In one example, a company struggling with the accessibility and accuracy of internal data partnered with CAS to harmonize and standardize their knowledge management system saving their researchers more than 3,300 hours annually.

Building and maintaining a high-quality data set requires expertise. CAS employs hundreds of scientists spanning a wide range of disciplines that speak over 50 languages collectively. Although algorithms can aid data processing, no algorithm can replace the ability of experienced scientists to interpret findings and make connections between seemingly disparate pieces of information.

CAS experts curate content collections tailored to the scope of your specific project. Building around your exact requirements streamlines workflows, increases discoverability and enhances the impact of internal and external resource investments to accelerate a wide range of initiatives.

Custom services from CAS are already helping organizations solve their biggest data curation and integration challenges. Contact us to unlock the power of your data with our expertise.

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