Medicines for Malaria: ‘Sharing data on drug discovery is key to disease control’

With the 2015 Open Data Awards just around the corner, we catch up with Tim Wells, Chief Scientific Officer at Medicines for Malaria Venture, finalists for the Open Data Innovation Award.

The Open Data Awards celebrate innovation and excellence in open data across the world. Hundreds of inspiring people and organisations have been nominated across five categories, from social impact to publishing.

The awards will be held on July 9 at Bloomberg’s London offices on Finsbury Square. Explore all nominees and finalists and follow #ODIAwards for updates on the night.


Medicines for Malaria Venture


Hi Tim! How are you doing?

A little hot – it’s 38 degrees here in Geneva.

What do you, or your organisation, do in a nutshell?

We’re a product development partnership: with our partners we catalyse the discovery, development and delivery of new medicines to treat and protect people against malaria. Malaria is one of the most deadly diseases we face, and one that particularly targets small children in Africa and Asia.

What first got you excited about open data?

There are 50 or so diseases that have a major impact on the health of children throughout the world. We wanted to share all our results, and share our new compounds with people, to help them discover new starting points for drugs against other diseases. We also figured out this is a good way to empower new research in Africa.

What are your biggest data challenges?

Quality. We need to continually work to make sure that the quality of the data we use and publish is checked and double-checked so people can rely on it. We also have to work hard to make sure all the data that people have is made available – it doesn’t just happen passively.

What kind of open data would you like to see more of?

In drug discovery anything that is precompetitive should be shared. We hope that more and more sharing can go on in other disease areas so that new solutions to those can be found more efficiently.

How do you feel about being nominated for an open data award?

Highly honoured. We think it's part of our job to share as much as we can with everyone, and so to have people on the outside saying that they think we’re doing a good job of encouraging the sharing of data – and also of important chemicals – is really important.

The Open Data Awards will be held on July 9 in partnership with Bloomberg at Bloomberg’s London offices on Finsbury Square.

Explore all nominees and finalists and follow #ODIAwards for updates on the night.