17 May 2023

EDITH Deep Thinkers Meeting: Steppingstone for future goals!

An incredible two-day (16-17th May) journey called the Deep Thinkers Meeting, was held at the Pi Campus in Rome, Italy. “We had a strong positive response to the invites we sent out for participation to this meeting, which not only ensures all stakeholders are well represented but it also signals the huge interest and commitment within the ecosystem to engage and realize the Virtual Human Twin for healthcare” says Liesbet Geris, the EDITH Project Coordinator and the VPH Institute Executive Director. After the welcome address by the CSA Coordinator, the European Commission Representatives, Kyriacos Hatzaras and Margherita Fanos (DG-CNECT) and the event host Sébastien Bratières from Translated and Pi School, Liesbet Geris gave a compelling presentation on the vision and roadmap of the Virtual Human Twin (VHT).

The first day included three fruitful breakout sessions aligned with EDITH key topics: Infrastructure, Tech stack, and Data Privacy and Security regulatory landscape. In the Infrastructure session, Yannis Ioannidis and Amaryllis Raouzaiou, ATHENA Research Centre (RC), together with Sabato Mellone, University of Bologna, described the characteristics of EDITH’s distributed and federated architecture as well as the general platform and scientific services that will be provided to the end-users. Liesbet Geris, Alfons Hoekstra, University of Amsterdam, and Marco Viceconti, University of Bologna, presented the data and model objects within the VHT framework, together with the integration of different systems and interoperability. The Data privacy session was dedicated to the ethical and legal aspects, where Edwin Morley-Fletcher and Lorenzo Cristofaro from Lynkeus together with Francesca Conte of the University of Bologna explained the legal scenarios around EDITH and all possible regulatory boundaries in the health data reuse.

Breakout sessions continued during the second day tackling other crucial aspects related to collaborations with industry and clinic, user experience and sustainability. Michael Strübin (DIGITALEUROPE) chaired a dynamic discussion on possible partnerships among health technology companies, healthcare providers, and research institutions in the integration towards VHT. Additionally, Sabato Mellone, University of Bologna, described the user-friendly interfaces to help full user engagement, and Minos Garofalakis, ATHENA RC, illustrated the possible pre-competitive business case scenarios.

To reward all the incredible efforts carried out during this meeting and in its preparatory phases, the last day concluded with several revolving world café sessions, where all the participants brainstormed and paved the way for overarching areas like Standards, GPT and Incentives for participation. Last but not the least, valuable lessons learned from similar European initiatives like ELIXIR Europe, TEF-HEALTH and EATRIS offered additional inspiration for tackling some of the identified challenges. In the conclusive plenary session, all participants wrapped up by setting up short and medium goals for the implementation of EDITH’s objectives and to ensure the roadmap embodies the vision of the entire ecosystem and its stakeholders to realize the Virtual Human Twin.