BIGCHEM: Challenges and Opportunities for Big Data Analysis in Chemistry

Mol Inform. 2016 Dec;35(11-12):615-621. doi: 10.1002/minf.201600073. Epub 2016 Jul 28.


The increasing volume of biomedical data in chemistry and life sciences requires the development of new methods and approaches for their handling. Here, we briefly discuss some challenges and opportunities of this fast growing area of research with a focus on those to be addressed within the BIGCHEM project. The article starts with a brief description of some available resources for "Big Data" in chemistry and a discussion of the importance of data quality. We then discuss challenges with visualization of millions of compounds by combining chemical and biological data, the expectations from mining the "Big Data" using advanced machine-learning methods, and their applications in polypharmacology prediction and target de-convolution in phenotypic screening. We show that the efficient exploration of billions of molecules requires the development of smart strategies. We also address the issue of secure information sharing without disclosing chemical structures, which is critical to enable bi-party or multi-party data sharing. Data sharing is important in the context of the recent trend of "open innovation" in pharmaceutical industry, which has led to not only more information sharing among academics and pharma industries but also the so-called "precompetitive" collaboration between pharma companies. At the end we highlight the importance of education in "Big Data" for further progress of this area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / methods
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical / methods*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Drug Industry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods*
  • Machine Learning