case study

Reinventing Scientific Discovery


The Challenge

Researchers spend years running expensive clinical trials to find new treatments—and even cures—for all kinds of diseases. If researchers had access to the valuable information gathered in these trials around the world, not just from their own research lab, they could answer questions and uncover new insights faster and at a fraction of the cost.  

In 2013, a pioneering group of researchers began to develop a secure, online data storage portal that would enable researchers across the world to share data from clinical trials, with the goal of speeding up scientific discovery. Leading companies, funders and academic institutions joined the initiative, agreeing to contribute their data. In 2018, after a successful pilot, Vivli was ready to launch its platform worldwide. It turned to Burness for support with the launch and for ongoing communications to get researchers to begin reusing data from the thousands of clinical trials housed on the Vivli platform.  

Our Approach

Vivli unveiled its platform at the National Academy of Sciences on July 19, 2018. Burness advised Vivli on the event format and presentations and provided training to the Vivli team. We helped expand the event beyond the room by live-streaming, live-tweeting and inviting media to attend. To support the launch, we also collaborated with Vivli’s 15 members to issue a press release to health and science reporters and promote the platform through members’ own internal and external communication channels.  

Shortly after the launch, we developed a social media strategy for Vivli and helped build out its social media channels. We also partnered with Vivli to raise the profile of its webinars and its inaugural datathon, developed in collaboration with Microsoft and its Data Analysis Challenge, and aimed at spurring research teams from nonprofit institutions to re-use clinical trial data. 

As the platform began to take off, we worked with Vivli’s executive director to write and place an op-ed in STAT that heralded the state of data sharing as having moved from an option to an imperative and that called on more researchers to share clinical trial data. 

In the years since the launch, we have also implemented a series of digital campaigns aimed at driving researchers in specific disease areas to the Vivli platform and encouraging them to conduct new research using data on the site. We also produced a short, animated video that makes the case for reusing data 

Each year, we work with Vivli to produce its annual report and live-tweet its annual meeting. In the coming months, we will support Vivli with its expansion of the platform to include surveillance data for antimicrobial resistance, which threatens to become the next global pandemic.  

Results and Impact

The 2018 launch was successful in raising Vivli’s profile and invigorating the research community around data sharing. Today, Vivli is one of the largest global data sharing platforms for clinical trials. Industry, academia, government agencies and non-profits all use Vivli to share data, including COVID studies. Research is flourishing, with new insights spanning a range of diseases——including rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer and Crohn’s disease— —fueling changes in treatment and patient care, and bringing us one step closer to discovering cures. 

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