What: University of British Columbia’s “Blockathon” for Social Good Research: open to local and global community members, focused on applying decentralized protocols to improve real-world research processes.
When: Friday, August 4th, 2017, 8:30am – 6:30pm
Where: UBC’s Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems (ICICS), 2386 Main Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia
Presented by: Blockchain@UBC, the Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF) Centre, the Digital Identity and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC), IdentityNORTH, Human Data Commons Foundation, digitalfutures and GIVsociety.org
Deadline for Team Registration:
Early Registration (discounted fee): July 15th, 2017
General Registration: July 29th, 2017
Cash Prize: $2,500.00 for the winning team
Why a “Blockathon”?
All of the partner organizations share the vision that blockchain technology’s unique characteristics of verifiable provenance, pseudonymous security, and math-based trust can expedite the timeline of research processes and support greater citizen control over personal medical data.
However, blockchain protocols are not just about code: this technology is so new there’s an equal need for practical implementation. The “Blockathon” thus involves both technical engineering and strategic planning.
Instead of just hunching over individual laptops, the Blockathon will involve resources for diffuse brainstorming, and room will be provided for both quiet reflection and cross-team discussion during the day’s ample breaks. This isn’t a rush to some constructed finish line- it’s an intensive and meaningful networking opportunity.
2017 has been a year of widespread global attention to blockchain possibilities beyond mere finance, and Blockchain@UBC is exploring these applications within the contexts of ethics, privacy, record-keeping, and research design.
The Blockathon will also serve to celebrate the successful first run of UBC’s Blockchain Open Knowledge Learning Initiative, an intensive “Summer Institute” which immersed students from diverse disciplines in an accelerated program covering the major contemporary blockchain protocols.
Use Case Focus: Improving and Expediting Real-World Biomedical Research
The use cases for this event will be provided by the Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF) Centre, a not-for-profit organization which develops biomarker-based blood tests for early detection of, and improved treatment for, conditions which cause heart, lung, and kidney failure. Utilizing clinical knowledge, molecular science, data analytics, and cross-sector collaboration, PROOF produces cutting-edge diagnostic, prognostic, and monitoring tests which allow early detection and cost-effective, patient-centred care.
Each of the possible use cases (see figure below) will be rooted in a stage of PROOF’s research process which could be improved by blockchain protocols. These include research ethics board approval processes, the organization and protection of research participants’ personal data, and de-identified storage and sharing of data during analytics.
Figure 1: Blockathon Use Cases (Source: Casey Shannon, PROOF)
If you’re thinking about participating but unsure whether you have the experience, we’d like to assure you that we are looking for participants with diverse experience and knowledge. Are you an experienced developer with little or no knowledge of blockchain technology? Great! This is your chance to learn more. Are you knowledgable about blockchain technology, but not a coder? Great! We need your ideation skills. Are you knowledgable about biomedical research, but not familiar with blockchain and not a developer. Great! We need your domain knowledge. We’re not asking you to prototype an entire system which would store personally identifiable patient information. We’re looking for hacks which help save time in the transitional verification stages of the research process.
You can use any blockchain platforms you want to address one of the use cases. As long as it does the job, while maintaining the integrity, privacy, and security of PROOF’s current operations, show us your potential solution to one of the following:
- In order to conduct an experiment, the affiliated faculty must submit a detailed proposal to the Research Ethics Board, including which types of data they’ll be collecting and how it will be stored. How could the verification and approval of these proposals be more efficiently tracked and confirmed?
- After research participants are enrolled, but before research begins, how is their informed consent logged, traced, and verified?
- When data collection is complete, and the data must be transferred across databases, how is its movement and provenance tracked and confirmed?
Benefits for Participants
- A prize of $2,500 (provided by PROOF, DIACC, IdentityNORTH, and Human Data Commons Foundation) will be awarded to the team with the most promising project outcomes
- Possible future implementation of multiple projects in collaboration with PROOF
- Networking with a wide range of stakeholders in the academic, nonprofit, and private sectors of blockchain and decentralization
- Hands-on guidance from valuable mentors: Casey Shannon, a computational biologist at PROOF, and MaRi Eagar, an experienced transformational leader in the decentralization community
- Peer collaboration, brainstorming, and constructive feedback
- Fully catered food and open access to a post-blockathon social mixer
8:30 am – Registration (with light breakfast)
9:00 am – Opening Ceremony
9:30 am – Blockathon Kickoff
5:00 pm – Presentations
6:30 pm – Closing Ceremony
There will be an optional dinner reservation at a local restaurant, and an after party held in Downtown Vancouver.
The day’s activities will be supplemented by collaborative sessions where groups will have the opportunity to explore and shape the real-world logistics (funding, research ethics, operational execution) of the proposed use cases. This invokes a pinch of a “philosopher’s cafe,” encouraging participants across the groups to discuss the cultural implications of the tools they’re building, and to informally peer review the feasibility of real-world implementation.
At this early developmental stage in disruptive decentralized technology, we have the opportunity to collectively define not just how we want these tools to work, but what values we want them to reinforce in their widespread use. We look forward to fostering a day full of intense innovation and critical reflection which will forge long-term professional relationships.
UBC Student: Free
Other Student: $25
I cannot afford to pay but would like to participate: email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.