When the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute (TOSI) was founded at The Neuro in 2016 with a $20M gift from the Larry & Judy Tanenbaum Family Foundation, one of its stated goals was to encourage Canadian institutes to follow the Open Science model—the sharing of data, methods and results to accelerate the pace of medical discoveries. The Neuro became the first institute to adopt a set of Open Science principles and TOSI has been working to encourage other institutes to do the same.
Since then, two institutions—The University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the Douglas Research Centre in Montreal—have followed The Neuro’s lead by adopting Open Science principles. These are monumental steps in TOSI’s advocacy mandate, but they will not be the last, according to Guy Rouleau, MD, PhD, Director of The Neuro and TOSI’s co-founder. Spreading Open Science further will take educating ambassadors about the benefits of an open approach to research and innovation.
“It’s through presentations, through working with the people who are spearheading the Open Science philosophy at the institutions,” he says. “And for this, we've developed a bunch of tools, like, for example, the buy-in process which we published.”
Dr. Rouleau identified the Open Science in Conversation webinars series, The Neuro – Irv and Helga Cooper Foundation Open Science Prizes, the Open Science Best Practices workshops, and the annual Open Science symposium as ways to spread the word about OS and help researchers and institutes transition to an OS framework. He also meets one-on-one with representatives to discuss what goes into becoming an Open Science organization.
When deciding whether to make the transition, other institutes can look to The Neuro as an example of Open Science in action. The Neuro’s OS policy has helped the institute recruit talented new researchers who value open data sharing, according to Dr. Rouleau. Donors also like the concept as a way to maximize their money’s impact on disease research. Funding agencies are becoming more pro-Open Science. The Open Science policy has increased collaboration with pharmaceutical companies, by making agreements faster and simpler to reach.
Yet a lot remains to be done. Dr. Rouleau works with TOSI’s Grassroots Committee made up of researchers across The Neuro to cultivate a research community of like-minded supporters of Open Science. Providing them with financial and personnel support, TOSI is supporting diverse community OS initiatives through peer-to-peer mentoring, the creation of platforms, and science communication initiatives. Institutes can also engage in strategic partnerships with TOSI through its Open Science Support and Partnership Framework.
“It’s a social change,” says Dr. Rouleau. “You do it mostly through education, and through training. So for example, I would love it if Open Science was taught at university, in all the different disciplines.”
“We need to get Open Science, active, alive. We need to eliminate the barriers to collaboration. We need the Open Science philosophy to spread from institution to institution, from lab to lab, ultimately leading to better treatments for neurological diseases. This is the right thing to do.”