On the 1st and 2nd of December, our Community Manager, Ben Meghreblian, was out spreading the word about OpenTrials in London.

Firstly, we were invited to talk to the members of the London Containing Bioinformatics & Data Analytics Meetup – they’re a mix of bio/health/medical informaticians, machine learners, software developers, engineers, and data scientists, so it was a great opportunity to talk about OpenTrials to a slightly different crowd from usual. There were lots of interesting questions, some potential offers of help from those who supervise students, and the conversations continued long after the session ended. Thanks to Paul A for organising and Ben vZ for hosting!

Ben Meghreblian talking about OpenTrials at the London Meetup – photo by Paul Agapow


Secondly, we took part in a Data Journalism Hack Day at King’s College London (KCL), in collaboration with Open Knowledge International and SoBigData. The day was organised for students of the KCL Data Journalism Course, and saw them working in groups on issues from international taxation, clinical trials, human rights violations, and natural resource extraction in the Global South. The students had already extracted data from various sources and their aim for the day was to work with data and domain experts to build a story around the data which they would subsequently write up.

KCL students discussing ideas for their data journalism stories – photo by Ben Meghreblian


The students working with the OpenTrials data had previously decided to focus on migraine trials and had already used the OpenTrials API to extract the relevant trials, importing them into Excel where they spent most of their time cleaning the data, analysing it, and visualising it.

It was an enjoyable day helping the students better understand how clinical trials work, what sort of issues may be worth considering for their story, and how the data can inform it. It was also interesting to see the OpenTrials data being used in a real, hands-on way, how powerful it can be to answer specific questions, along with challenges and limitations relating to missing data from some registries and non-normalised company names – issues we are aware of and want to address.

We’re looking forward to reading the finished clinical trials ‘exclusive’ by the students – meanwhile we don’t want to steal their journalistic thunder, so we won’t post any of the cool visualisations they’ve created yet, but once the story is live, we’ll link to it here.


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