Advancing regulatory science: using scientific data better to strengthen public health

12 October 2015

Never before have such vast amounts of data been generated by the life sciences. This abundance of information needs to be used in an efficient way to support regulatory decision-making in the interest of strengthening global health.

The international meeting on regulatory bioinformatics organised by the Global Coalition for Regulatory Science Research (GCRSR) addressed this issue by looking at how bioinformatics tools can help advance regulatory science.

Hosted by EFSA, the Global Summit of Regulatory Science (GSRS) brought together over 100 scientists from 26 countries on 12 and 13 October 2015. Welcoming participants to the first-ever GSRS meeting in Europe, EFSA’s Executive Director Bernhard Url said: “This is a sign that cooperation on a global level is one of the answers we need.”

Challenges and opportunities

Speakers looked at global trends, as well as initiatives and opportunities in a range of areas. These included, among others, trends and developments in the application of bioinformatics and the use of whole genome sequencing and computational prediction models in regulatory risk assessments in the era of big data.

The topic of big data and its relevance in clinical medicine was picked up in the discussion on applications of bioinformatics in human health. Participants focused on striking a balance between useful application of such data and the protection of patient privacy.

Participants agreed that the enormous amounts of scientific information being generated need to be used in the most efficient way to unlock the potential of the relatively young discipline of regulatory bioinformatics. It needs infrastructural modifications and the cooperation of all stakeholders, i.e. scientists, regulators and industry, for the benefit of all.

Important discussion forum

This year’s meeting was the fifth such gathering organised by the GCRSR. It provided an important forum for regulators, policy makers and scientists to discuss how research can contribute to advancing regulatory science, food safety, medical technologies and public health. Previous summits focused on innovation, modernising toxicology, nanotechnology and genomics.

A one-day workshop on nanomaterial measurement science and standards for regulatory consideration preceded the summit meeting.