DTL & Health-RI moving forward together in one organization – enabling data driven health & life sciences

The new year starts with a pivotal moment for DTL, as DTL is now merging with Health-RI into one strong organization for data-driven health & life sciences. During the recent DTL partner meeting on 23 November 2022, the strategic partnership of DTL and Health-RI was already formally launched, with DTL’s partners present. As of January 2023, the DTL team continues as part of the Health-RI organization.

Health-RI and DTL are joining forces. As one of the Health-RI initiators, DTL has actively contributed to the design and construction of Health-RI’s organization and program by using its experience, network and expertise. While DTL focuses on the broad life sciences, a large part of DTL activities and projects in the field of health have already been carried out jointly with Health-RI in recent years.  

In formally merging the two organizations, the expertise and networks of DTL and Health-RI now come even more closely together to establish a collective national platform enabling the development of data driven health and life sciences in the Netherlands. The logic of this step is already reflected in the fact that with support of the Netherlands Science Council (NWO), DTL and Health-RI jointly form the national coordination point for the establishment of the Thematic Digital Competence Center (TDCC) for Health and Life Sciences. This program intends to involve a broad range of stakeholders to address challenges in data driven health and life sciences research and it has a role in the transition towards a practice of Open Science. 

In almost 10 years, DTL has built up strong public-private expertise network in the field of data-driven life sciences. With its academic and industry partners, DTL forms a national, multidisciplinary platform for data-intensive R&D, with a focus on biological and molecular data processing: data generation, data stewardship, data infrastructure and data analysis.  

DTL has built up broad expertise with partners and communities in the field of molecular and cellular research, through shared facilities (‘enabling technology hotels’) in the field of multi-omics and bioimaging, bioinformatics and systems biology (BioSB community). DTL was at the basis of the global development of FAIR data stewardship and helped position the Netherlands in ELIXIR, the European life science data infrastructure. 

As was apparent at the recent DTL partner meeting on 23 November 2022, DTL’s long-term aspirations to enable data driven life sciences research and innovation are still highly alive and valued. The Boards of both DTL and Health-RI have concluded that it is better not to continue as separate organizations, but to join forces and establish a strong and experienced organization together. As of January 2023, the DTL team continues as part of the Health-RI organization. Building on the current DTL partnership, a broader public-private partnership and expert platform on data driven health and life sciences will be established in the course of this year. 

Leone Flikweert (CEO Health-RI) expresses her enthusiasm about the merger of DTL and Health-RI: ‘DTL’s contribution already was indispensable to the formation of Health RI and our ambition to improve the health of citizens and patients by reusing health data with an integrated health data infrastructure for research and innovation. With this step of fully integrating the teams in one organization we create and even stronger and more sustainable national platform.’ 

Ruben Kok (Director of DTL and already board member of Health-RI) echoes the strong perspective for DTL in the new construct: ‘We will be able to build a more solid position in the field and be able to improve our support to our partners in tackling collective challenges in data driven health and the broader life sciences. This will need substantive cooperation between stakeholders, disciplines and initiatives, and strong international alignment. Collectively, as one team, we will be better able to connect key parties in establishing strategic partnerships’.  

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