Last month, OpenClinica users throughout Germany converged in Berlin for the very first German OpenClinica Users Group Workshop entitled: OpenClinica – an Open-Source Clinical Data Management System for Clinical and Translational Research. This was held at the TMF (Technology, Methods, and Infrastructure for Networked Medical Research) facility.
Brought about by the efforts of Matthias Löbe, the goals of the workshop were to gain experience, insight, and give back to the strong community of OpenClinica users in Germany. Löbe offered the following insight when asked about his motivations for organizing this group:
“It turns out that there are many locations throughout Germany with OpenClinica experience along with many developing adaptations or extensions. But so far, none of the 70 registered workshop participants knew of the activities carried out by others. The workshop has opened a whole new perspective.”
My colleague, Alicia Goodwin, who has been working with OpenClinica since 2007, was invited to speak at the conference. I interviewed Alicia after she returned to share insight on the event.
What were you looking forward to the most at the workshop?
I really wanted to meet the OpenClinica users and learn about how OpenClinica is used in Germany. The workshop had about 70 participants, representing seasoned users and developers to clinical site personnel looking for more information. There are several very active and brilliant OpenClinica community members in Germany, such as Mattias, Gerben Rienk, Philipp Leusmann, Henrik Dittman, Christian Hänsel, to name just a few. I was excited to hear about the wide range of work they are involved with.
Was the entire workshop spoken in German?
Yes, it was. Thankfully, I have enough of the language experience that I was able to understand most of what was being said.
You were invited to speak at the workshop. What was your talk about?
I spoke about the vital users and developers in our community and their role in OpenClinica development, innovation, and global support. I also talked about some of the development tools that are used. JIRA was a big topic as it really underscores our commitment to transparency, our rigorous SDLC, and our open source ecosystem.
What kind of technical information or issues were discussed?
A key theme was around the value that could be obtained from increasing portability and scalability extending th RESTFUL APIs and reusing study elements such as OIDs, rules, metadata across multiple systems. Essentially, looking at architecture in the future.
Was there anything that surprised you at the workshop?
One of the really cool things that I saw was a project called OpenClinica Big Data, developed by Dr. Thomas Deserno from Aachen University. OpenClinica Big Data is an OpenClinica extension specifically designed to handle some of the unique challenges associated with uploading and managing large image file sets. The system utilizes OpenClinica web services, allowing users to make calls from OpenClinica to retrieve image data from the Big Data repository. This module enriches OpenClinica with a convenient and context-related transfer of binary large objects (blobs), such as biomedical images or signals.
I was also very impressed with the overall enthusiasm and turn-out. Hopefully this initial workshop will encourage ongoing interaction among German-speaking OpenClinica users.
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