The QUEST Center plans and implements various projects and measures, between others in collaboration with the Department of Experimental Neurology Charité -University Medicine Berlin.
The unique feature: The activities of the QUEST Center have a very practical relevance –the translational approach- as we seek to test new approaches in design, analysis and reporting at the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) building a bridge between basic research and clinical care. The procedures and projects to be implemented are identified, by so-called "meta-research", i.e. research on research. During and after the implementation, we also want to examine the effectiveness. The QUEST projects focus in matters such as systematic reviews, Open Science (open data, metadata, and ontologies), Citizen Science, Science Policy, (incentives and rewards in academia, new metrics and indicators), Replication and Reproducibility, Electronic Laboratory Notebook, registration and publication of clinical studies, teaching and quality management in the preclinical research.
In collaboration with the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies, the QUEST Center also conducts research on translation. The respective reports are listed below.
Publication of results from clinical trials (In4Value)
One of our first projects, the In4Value project, is concerned with the publication of clinical trials. The publication of all results from clinical trials is an important component for improving biomedical research and reducing the amount of unused research results. This is also an obligation regarding the participants of clinical trials and their contribution to research.
Yet, many study results are not being published at all or only with great delay. Under the leadership of the Hannover Medical School and in cooperation with the university clinic Freiburg (Cochrane Deutschland), we want to determine the proportion of clinical trials without published results for each of the 36 German medical faculties. For this, we concentrate on all trials completed between 2009 and 2013.
This project takes place in the context of the AllTrials petition in which the BIH participates.
There is a wide consensus that biomedical sciences, especially their preclinical domains, are affected by a systemic quality problem. There is an almost complete lack of structured quality control measures, which are standard in pharmaceutical or clinical research. With this project, which is a collaboration of the QUEST Center with the Department of Experimental Neurology Charité, we aim to improve the quality of academic preclinical biomedicine with structured quality assurance measures. Unfortunately, existing approaches, standards and systems are only conditionally suitable for preclinical biomedical research. The goal of PREMIER is the development of structured quality assurance in preclinical biomedicine consisting of modular elements in which high-quality preclinical research is feasible and practicable, devoid of a creativity-hindering ‘surveillance’ culture. The long-term goal of PREMIER is to improve robustness and value of research. We strive to develop a scalable ‘system’ that can be deployed to and implemented in other workgroups, departments, or institutions.
We are calling this modular system ‘PREMIER’: Productiveness and Robustness through Modular Improvement of Experimental Research. The overarching goals of our project are the proof of concept of structured quality assurance in preclinical academic biomedicine, to provide preliminary (indirect) evidence for its efficacy, and to lay the foundations for the scientific community to further jointly modify and improve such an ‘open’ system.
EQIPD is also a collaborative project between the QUEST Center and the Department of Experimental Neurology.
EQIPD (European Quality In Preclinical Data) is a project of a European consortium project consisting of members from European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries (EFPIA) and from academia which is funded for three years by IMI (Innovative Medicines Initiative) which belongs to the EU-program Horizon 2020. The Department of Experimental Neurology at the Charité is one of the leading academic partners in EQIPD. Aim of this project is to advance the quality and efficiency of discovery R&D data by providing evidence to develop quality criteria for new and improved preclinical tests. The aim is to provide a simple, flexible, efficient system, based on empirical evidence, to improve the rigor and robustness of preclinical neuroscience and safety research in academia and industry.
Research on Translation
The project series Research on Translation aims at analysing the definition of translational research, at contributing to a clearer picture of the organization of translational research and at investigating the implementation of translational research within BIH.
How to understand translational research? How to organize translational research? Answers to these and other questions cam be found in the report IN SEARCH OF TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH of the first project.
The report of the second project ORGANIZING TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH provides a thorough description of organizational processes and practices used to establish, organize, and evaluate translational research in key research organizations, relating them to specific institutional settings, different expectations from different actors and how established routines facilitate barriers or enablers for organizational transformation towards translational research.
In a next step, a survey instrument, based on exploratory interviews, was developed to investigate the views on translational research within BIH. The main points of interest were: Where in the (bio)medical process of producing knowledge and effective treatments should translation be improved? Which measures are best suited to improve translation? The Q methodological survey is described here. Results of the interviews will be available soon.
The Reproducibility Crisis and Scientific Culture in Biomedical Research
The aim of this project is to gain a better understanding of the knowledge and handling, incentives and barriers related to reproducibility of research results in the institutional context Charité, MDC and BIH. The overall goal is to identify structurally embedded starting points for the optimization of research robustness. To this end, we seek to obtain the perspectives of institutional researchers and other key opinion leaders within the framework of approx. 40 semi-structured in-depth interviews. The first interviews are planned from March 2018.
Background of the project is the lack of reproducibility of many scientific results and the questionable robustness of the collected data. On the one hand, deficits in the methodological planning, implementation and analysis of the research projects are important reasons. Secondly, measures aimed at improving the quality of research (such as formalizing research under guidelines such as CONSORT or increasing transparency by registering clinical studies or training opportunities) do not seem to have the desired effect in the current research climate and environment, as results from meta-studies show.
The project is a collaboration between Robert Nadon (Principle Investigator), Associate Professor, Department of Human Genetics. Mc Guill University, Montreal, and is co-funded by the Schering Foundation.
Prof. Nadon is Visiting Fellow of the QUEST Center for Transforming Biomedical Research.