Frank Hollinger to lead DC in USA

Frank Hollinger to lead Douglas Connect in the United States

The science of sharing - why collaboration is key

“Collaboration is now the way science gets done,” says Dr. Frank Hollinger. “Over the past decade, Douglas Connect has demonstrated how well it leads collaboration. I joined the company to be a part of that.”

Recently named Douglas Connect’s Vice President of Corporate Operations for the Americas, Dr. Hollinger is working out of the company’s new US headquarters in the Raleigh-Durham Research Triangle. Together, the new office and Dr. Hollinger’s appointment signal Douglas Connect’s interest in building on its successful track record leading scientific collaboration in Europe and Asia.

Frank Hollinger pictured here (third from right) with the DC team at the SOT-ToxExpo in San Antonio, Texas, March, 2018. With a PhD in organic and computational chemistry from Columbia University, Frank Hollinger has had a career applying synthetic chemistry, computational chemistry, chemoinformatics and information technology to drug discovery at major pharmaceutical companies, as well as entrepreneurial experience with biotech start-ups, including co-founding Sphaera Pharma. For more than 20 years he has led interdisciplinary teams of scientists, developers and information scientists and is the author/co-author of more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals and the co-inventor of a number of patents.

As a scientist, he was frustrated by the time it took to acquire data for building models for new drugs. “Eighty percent of my time went into putting data together to make one or two models. Imagine if you had all the data at your fingertips. You could flip the equation and make the world’s best model 90% of the time!’

The best use of data

Now, he is bringing his diverse background and experience to Douglas Connect with an eye toward helping US partners, both companies and regulatory agencies, meet their goals.

“Douglas Connect is a kind of Switzerland for scientific collaboration, a neutral zone where all can interact,” he says. “We offer a unifying space where common problems can be solved. When two pharma companies are trying to develop drugs and both need to solve the same problem, it makes a lot of sense to distribute development costs and bring all available brainpower to finding the solution. We make the best use of open source data to offer customized solutions.”

Dr. Hollinger also sees Douglas Connect turning its attention to Personalized Medicine, an idea whose time, he believes, has come. “At the National Academy of Science meeting in February, I was stunned by the amount of things going on. PM is screaming for homogenization and integration of data from different sources and analytical tools. Douglas Connect is uniquely positioned to help move the thinking about those problems forward.”

A younger Frank Hollinger attending a Douglas Connect coordinated event at Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania in 2007.This year’s Society of Technology meeting, held in San Antonio in March, also confirmed his view that sharing data can fill common needs. “The poster we presented on OpenRiskNet got a lot of attention - less about the details than the fact that people across different organizations, different groups with data, are actually talking to each other,” he says. “OpenRiskNet offers a common platform for organizations at opposite ends of the research spectrum to interact, for example, a chemical-centric system and a bio-centric system, whose tie is often the molecule itself. Because pharma companies have firewalls, they are challenged to do queries of public sources with proprietary information. OpenRiskNet offers a system for tapping into publicly available sources to carry out queries, offering live data through a common interface.”    

To demonstrate Douglas Connect’s strength in side-by-side collaboration, Dr. Hollinger and his colleagues offered complimentary data counselling to visitors to its SOT booth. “First, we listened to their challenges. Then, we were able to draw their workflows and help them spot the critical connections that can support their work,” he says.

But many of the questions at SOT, he says, were about Douglas Connect itself. “We’re an unusual company – a mix of scientists and software developers – so it’s hard to put what we do into the usual nutshell. At SOT, I answered a lot of questions about how we bring different organizations and different sources of data together to predict toxicity and risk assessment. I sensed a new understanding that powerful science starts with cross-fertilization - from startups to big companies to agencies, from Europe to Asia to the Americas. I came away with the renewed conviction that we need common ways of approaching problems, with all views represented.”

About Douglas Connect

Douglas Connect manages collaborative projects to achieve goals in scientific research, infrastructure development or service provision. Effective collaboration requires many elements including coordination, culture, communications, common understanding, decision-making and interoperability.


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