View Full Version : Re: Bionet controversial topic #7: What a biomechanics datarepository should contain in order to be valuable?

Rainer Goellner
04-24-2002, 10:05 PM
Ton van den Bogert wrote:
> A good example, already mentioned, is Chris Kirtley's Clinical Gait Analysis
> site at http://guardian.curtin.edu.au/cga/. And of course, the fact that
> Biomch-L
> exists and you are reading this message is only because of the idealism and
> vision
> of the late Herman Woltring.
And my thanks go to Marco Viceconti for pointing out
your (and all the other's) part in it!

Gait analysis seems somewhat easier to me, 'cause
the field is not as broad, it's "just" a part of
what we're discussing here. But of course you're
absolutly right about Chris Kertley and his role.

I'm not as hopeless as it may have seemed,
probably just a little bit biased by my local

> Sharing of information is the essence of science, and these days we need
> more than journal publications to do that effectively. It is encouraging
> that
> our government agencies are beginning to see that. NIH has recently
> announced
> a draft policy for data sharing, see
> http://www.niams.nih.gov/rtac/funding/grants/notice/notod02-035.htm
Europe, especially the EU, is keeping straight on
the path the USA are about to quit...

> I wonder if anyone has considered asking for government funding to operate
> a biomechanics data repository, similar to the "virtual human" project
> mentioned by Marco Viceconti (http://www.ornl.gov/virtualhuman). This
> would be one way to make this effort show up on a performance evaluation.
The critical term here is "project". I do think, some kind
of funding is an option, but it will be limited in time.
As Serge van Sint Jan noticed, the project has to carry
itself after a while.

As far as the Virtual Human project is concerned: There's
a huge interest in it from several different directions.
Part of it is a strong military interest, which is kind
of a guaranty for enduring subsidy. Apart from that,
VH eventually will get commercial attention. Same with
the well-known Jack, which operates at a rather mechanical

Now I have to relate this topic to an earlier one: Are we
in need of a "supermodel", as suggested by Prof. Hatze?
Then we should knock at VH's door! It wouldn't make any
sense to start a new project. On the other hand, if we
want simplified models for specific applications, isn't
VAKHUM a good starting point? Or AnyBody, at
? I'm sure there are more.

> We may also learn some lessons from the genomic and proteomic databases.
> There are both free (government funded) services and commercial services.
> See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi and look past PubMed.
> It is interesting to see how these databases refer to journal articles and
> patents for further information.
> See http://www.celera.com/genomics/commercial/home.cfm for a commercial
> example.
This, and your concerns about emphasizing data too much,
put me in a very theoretic mood... I'm just reading
(finally!) Thomas S. Kuhn's famous essay, The Structure
of Scientific Revolutions. Kind of oversimplified, he
describes the process of unsystematic gathering of data
as a pre-scientific way. At some point, a paradigma
emerges, and a new science can evolve.

I think, the genomic and proteomic people are in that
pre-scientific state, they mostly just gather data. It's
a very special community, because commercial interest
collides with ethical reasoning. So it's governments
obligation to get involved.

According to Kuhn, those who gather data methodically,
having a vision, are the specialists at the borders
of the main sciences. That's us!

So I do think, we need both: The data, and the
models. And the Grand Repository should comprise

Now, let me add another thought concerning the
kind of community being involved.

E.g, the mathematical community has a long tradition
exchanging their "data"; theorems and proofs, in
their case. On the other hand, engineers have learned
to live with (or even for?) patents. If they want
to earn a good living, they have to keep their data

Where do we stand?

Maybe a question to be answered first!

I'm beginning to regret that I won't attend the Bionet
meeting this weekend. Looks like it's gonna be very

Have a fine time,


Rainer Goellner
IfADo (that's: Institute for occupational health)
Dortmund, Germany

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