Alzforum: E-Science for Alzheimer Disease
The Alzheimer Research Forum Web site (http://www.alzforum.org) is an independent research project to develop an online community resource to manage scientific knowledge, information, and data about Alzheimer disease (AD). Its goals are to promote rapid communication, research efficiency, and collaborative, multidisciplinary interactions. Introducing new knowledge management approaches to AD research has a potentially large societal value. … In addition to imposing a heavy burden on family caregivers and society at large, AD and related neurodegenerative disorders are among the most complex and challenging in biomedicine. Researchers have produced an abundance of data implicating diverse biological mechanisms. Important factors include genes, environmental risks, changes in cell functions, DNA damage, accumulation of misfolded proteins, cell death, immune responses, changes related to aging, and reduced regenerative capacity. Yet there is no agreement on the fundamental causes of AD. The situations regarding Parkinson, Huntington, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are similar. The challenge of integrating so much data into testable hypotheses and unified concepts is formidable. What is more, basic understanding of these diseases needs to intersect with an equally complex universe of pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, animal studies, and clinical trials. In this chapter, we will describe the approaches developed by Alzforum to achieve knowledge integration through information technology and virtual community-building. We will also propose some future directions in the application of Web-based knowledge management systems in neuromedicine.
It’s an ambitious mission and could use the support of the community, beginning with your participation.