Frankl’s dementia app one of 87 public applications to the Wellcome Trust Open Research Fund

“three clear beakers placed on tabletop” by Hans Reniers on Unsplash

A few weeks ago the Frankl team applied to the Wellcome Trust Open Research Fund to support the development of an app we’re working on with cognitive neuropsychologist and Frankl adviser Prof Greg Savage. As we put it in the proposal:

“The aim…is to develop an application for assessing memory abilities in patients with diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease dementia or other forms of dementia, people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (who have higher risk of developing dementia), and cognitively normal elderly people with subjective memory concerns.”

The app will have all the Frankl features:

  • integrated data management
  • cryptocurrency micropayment that can be refunded when data are shared
  • blockchain metadata to establish the existence and provenance of data and increase findability.

And so as well as being a super useful tool for clinicians and researchers, it will also be a way to showcase what we think of as the “Frankl model”.

Open proposals

The money and kudos would be nice obviously! But submitting this proposal was also an opportunity to put our ideas in front of the people at Wellcome Trust — the second largest charitable organisation in the world — and the open science community at large.

Research funding applications are normally highly secretive — nobody wants their ideas stolen before they’ve come to fruition. But in the spirit of openness, all applicants to the Open Research Fund were invited to make their proposal public. Out of 96 applicants, 87 (including ourselves) said yes.

You can read Frankl’s application here.

The other 86 proposals can be downloaded from the Wellcome Trust website.

Blockchain for open research

There are some truly exciting ideas amongst the proposals (a full list of project titles is at the end of this post). But of course, the first thing we did was to look for other blockchain-related proposals.

And we weren’t disappointed, with three intriguing proposals including one from our friends at ARTiFACTS:

David Kochalko: Integrating ARTiFACTS Attribution Services with Open Science Software Systems

“Our vision is to leverage emerging Web 3.0 technologies including A.I., Big Data, and blockchain in support of improving timely and secure access to emerging scientific ideas and data and to integrate these technologies into other established tools in the open science software ecosystem. A key step toward this goal, which is the essence of this proposal, is to develop and deploy an API to enable direct interaction between our Artifacts.ai system and other open science software tools.”

Dr James Cunningham: Trustless Third Parties

“This project seeks to implement a system of ‘trustless third parties’ based on distributed ledger technology…The project will explore means by which token-based solutions can be employed to incentivise more active participation and engagement in the research process by the ultimate providers of the data, the patients themselves.”

Prof Vallipuram Muthukkumarasamy: Distributed Ledger Technology Based Health Alliance Platform for Enhanced Research Collaboration

“A smart contract driven Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) based system will be designed and developed to provide an innovative platform for collaboration among the researchers, clinicians, patients, and health service providers. The proposed system has the potential to increase privacy, safety, transparency, auditability and accountability for a number of use-cases such as clinical trials, data sharing and management of patient records.”

Getting together

We won’t know for a few weeks which of the 96 applications have been successful. With such a strong and crowded field, the chances of success for any project are low.

But already on Twitter, there’s talk amongst the applicants of getting together to discuss how the different projects might collaborate and complement one another. It seems that whatever the outcome, openness is again the big winner!


Non-blockchain proposals

  • Opening up data from the massive citizen science project “Contagion! The BBC4 Pandemic”
  • Data2Paper
  • NiftyNet as an open and reproducible artificial intelligence research platform for real-time surgical and interventional support
  • Development of the world’s first comprehensive database and search tool for characterisation of bacterial surface polysaccharides
  • Automating dataset and topic discovery to optimise and accelerate health research development
  • Opening Psychology to the Individual
  • Deeper Insights from Primary Data (DIPD)
  • dait-c — Data analysis in the cloud.
  • Resource Watch: Monitoring the Scientific Food Chain
  • Increasing open data and code by providing technical support to researchers
  • Mobistudy: a multi-centre, multi-study mobile-health research platform
  • Development of a Minimum Information for Self-Monitoring Experiments reporting guideline (MISME)
  • Open data and notebooks for studying laboratory animal activity:
  • Removing barriers to routine sharing of data
  • Wellcome OpenEvidence: Full acquisition, curation, dissemination of extracted trial data from Cochrane reviews
  • AttachmentOpen: An online interactive tool for accessing meta-analytic attachment research
  • Developing In Silico Tools To Evaluate Combination Compounds in Pre-Clinical Models
  • Enhancing reproducibility and validation of automated spike sorting workflows
  • Open platform for cross disease network analysis with Specific Betweenness
  • Reproducible and freely-available clustering of bacterial sequences for genomic epidemiology and surveillance
  • S3X: a novel paradigm for Sustainable Scientific Software publication
  • Increasing the impact of open research by enabling crowd curation of figures and linking of preprint data
  • Genome.zone: Development of an online portal for clinical microbial diagnostics using next-generation sequence data
  • Improving registration and reporting of university-sponsored clinical trials in seven key countries
  • Rapid PREreview: A rapid preprint review platform to support outbreak science
  • Open Source Period: a model for co-created collaborative open research
  • Harvesting lost gene signatures with improved open-source analysis to accelerate biomedical discovery
  • Developing and Publicising an Online Platform for Facilitating Research Collaboration and Resource Sharing
  • Creating an innovative country-specific Open Research Data Hub for health researchers: Ghana as a case study
  • OpenHeart Project — An Open-Source Research Community in the Field of Mechanical Circulatory Support
  • Development of an open source, accessible platform for large-scale hallucinations research
  • Clinical Code List Inventory and Citation (CCLIC) Portal
  • An algorithm-based browser plug-in to reveal if scientific articles have been refuted or confirmed.
  • Creating COSECs — the largest dataset of COmmercial SExual Contacts in the UK
  • GEM: translational software for outbreak analysis
  • An Open-Source Database for Predicting Pharmacokinetics
  • Repurposing genetic diversity information from gnomAD for a better representation and analysis of the human proteome in neXtProt
  • Improving collaboration using findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) functions for scalable and reproducible research computing.
  • Evaluating and Improving Open Science Practices in Health Research
  • CODE CHECK: A web service for independent reproduction of computations underlying biomedical research
  • Open Biomedical Citations in Context Corpus
  • Advancing Openness of Lab Notebooks
  • Reuse SDK for easy discoverability of additional research outputs
  • Embedding FAIR principles into analysis workflows with data packaging: Costs and best practices
  • Educational web-based crowdsourcing suite for neuroradiological assessment
  • “bims: Biomed news” from machine learning to expertise sharing
  • The Public Domain Technology Review: shining a spotlight on open research tools for the life sciences
  • Metagram: A next generation tool for finding research outputs
  • The development of a Generic Drug Database with their New Indications- Generic Drugs Repositioning
  • The Developoment of an Equine Assisted Interventions Research Repository’
  • HealthyR Notebooks: Democratising open and reproducible data analysis in resource-poor environments
  • STASH — Stimulating direct archiving and sharing of research data
  • Octopus: Making scientific publishing serve science, rather than the other way round
  • Simplifying the use of computational workflows across different clouds through Galaxy and Kubernetes container orchestrator
  • Kickstarting Open Science Practices in Positron Emission Tomography: Open Data, Tools and an end-to-end Reproducible Analysis Pipeline from Image to Outcomes
  • Building and Management of Open Access (Visualization) Platforms for Re-purposing Research
  • REPEAT: A platform for open and REProducible data Extraction AT scale for electronic health record studies
  • Open Data for Health Impacts of Air Pollution
  • The development of a novel interrogable open resource on work and health
  • BIRDb — Prototyping a public databank for infrared spectra of biologically relevant macromolecules and their references
  • One Medicine — Delivering Improvement in Osteoarthritis Treatment by Combining Knowledge From Human and Animal Medicine.
  • FAIR Enough? An Open Data Commons for Spinal Cord Injuries
  • BRAINS (Benefit-Risk Assessment INteractive Software): an open source interactive tool for drug benefit-risk assessment
  • ORIGIN: an international network to establish open research standards in genome-wide association study
  • Promoting adoption of transparency policies by journals
  • An Open, Patient-centric Information Commons for Tuberculosis
  • Evaluation of a new reporting standard for interventions in surgical systematic reviews
  • AI-curated Knowledgebase and Knowledge Graph for Nipah Virus and Tuberculosis.
  • Enhancing youth participation in community-based health research 
    Citizen Health Search
  • Collaborative data collection platform
  • Open, complete, disambiguated database of authorship metadata in biomedicine
  • Feasibiity study to create a National Health Research Knowledge Management database in Rwanda
  • Distribution of neuronal types in the primate cerebral cortex: an online resource
  • Data Linkage and Model Sharing for Predicting Avian Influenza Outbreaks
  • Avicenna — An open data platform to support the early detection of complex clinical conditions
  • MouseBytes: Cognitive Data Integration and Sharing Platform
  • Open Africa
  • REDER — Repository of Epidemiological, Data cleaning, and Economic R code
  • BrainBox Badges: Online certification for collaborative annotation of brain imaging data.
  • Open cloud computation tools for image segmentation
  • Investigating the value of analytical studies of Peer Review methods (including Liquid Peer Review) using a computational, agent-based modelling approach.
  • Development of a high-quality, low-cost, open-source hemodialysis machine. Phase I: Device design & prototype development
  • Creating and sharing reproducible research code the workflowr way

At Frankl, our mission is to make open science easy and rewarding for scientists. If you’d like to know more, you can read our whitepaper, check out our website, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or join our Telegram channel.