The VPHi has responded to the consultation and called for its member support to stress the need for funding in silico technologies in the upcoming Horizon Europe framework. The deadline for contribution has been extended to 4 Oct 2019, don't miss this opportunity to make your voice heard!
The European Commission launched a public consultation on the Horizon Europe to contribute to co-designing and shaping the future research and innovation investment. The call was originally planned to close on 8 September 2019, but the deadline for contribution has been extended for other months until 4 Oct 2019. This is one of the tools the Commission is implementing in the co-creation process of Horizon Europe. Another of these tools are the European Research and Innovation Days scheduled on 24-25-26 September 2019 in Brussels.
In the strategic document for the first part of Horizon Europa 2021-2024 (https://ec.europa.eu/research/pdf/horizon-europe/annex-1.pdf), digital tools for healthcare are repeatedly mentioned. There is a growing consensus across the healthcare sector that big data and digitalisation (including computer modelling and simulation) will allow to transform the healthcare of the future by providing tools to understand complexity of health and disease. However, there are still many hurdles to be taken to fully exploit the potential of these new technologies.
This consultation is a great opportunity to make our voice heard on the need to keep on funding the development of in silico medicine in Horizon Europe. In case you still haven't done it, we encourage you to give your contribute. Below you can find the text we communicated to the Commission in response to to survey.
Horizon Europe Cluster 1: Health
VPH Institute input in Horizon Europe public consultation
Indicators of importance for all subjects: use personal judgement
Question (at end of consultation): Please provide here further general input regarding the targeted impacts from Horizon Europe. (5000 characters):
There is a growing consensus across the healthcare sector that big data and digitalisation (including computer modelling and simulation) will allow to transform the healthcare of the future by providing tools to understand complexity of health and disease. In the partial agreement by the European Council and Parliament in April 2019, the importance of computer modelling and simulation was recognized and the use of the concept of a digital twin in healthcare was written into the Horizon Europe legal framework itself. However, there are still many hurdles to be taken to fully exploit the potential of these new technologies. A number of these challenges is related to the data required to build the digital tools: FAIRification, data storage, data protection, ethics. Other challenges are related to the technology aspects: linking AI with prior knowledge, generating and ensuring quality of the information used as input for the digital tools, interoperability between different tools. And yet other challenges are present on the side of the uptake of these tools by healthcare professionals, patients, regulators and authorities.
Expected impact: the development, implementation and uptake of digital tools will facilitate an innovative, sustainable and high-quality healthcare in the EU, it will allow citizens to remain healthy for longer by allowing personal health forecasting and it will provide tools to tackle diseases and reduce its burden for individual patients and society as a whole. To give a few examples: with computer modelling and simulation in paediatrics we can move to confirmatory clinical trials rather than exploratory – raising the bar for safety in trials with children. In orphan medicinal products, we can vastly expand the potential trial candidates and improve our understanding of rare diseases by running virtual trails as a support for traditional trials. In the field of ageing – a core priority for the Commission, we can better understand polypharmacy and make sure that we are preserving not just life but livelihood by better understanding the interaction of treatments and multi-morbidities.
In order to realize this impact, further R&I actions are required. Generation and curation of data as well as access to data that is collected in large databases is a necessary step to the successful implementation of digital tools. This data is not limited to electronic health records but also pertains to data and tissues collected in biobanks and other collections. In order to maximize the use of these precious sources, pilot studies should be funded to bring such initiatives together across member states and tackle legal, economical and technologies barriers making it difficult to do so today.
Further development of the digital technologies themselves is essential. Artificial Intelligence is one, important, tool in the wide range of digital tools that is available. Most (bio)medical questions will require a range of digital technologies to be used to provide appropriate answers for patients and professionals, combining tools that start from data (AI, machine learning) with tools that start from the insights in biomedical processes that were governed by the vast amounts of work done in previous framework programs (mechanistic, VPH). Being prescriptive in the specific type of digital tools to use in R&I actions might lead to partial answers being generated reducing their impact.