Updates to the R Validation Hub Executive Team

By Doug Kelkhoff | September 5, 2023

As the R Validation Hub closes in on its 5th year of activity I want to take a quick trip down memory lane and reflect on how we got here. Perhaps I should start by reminding everyone how it all started. Back in 2018, as the prospect of using R for any regulated analysis was still a hotly contested question, industry participants brought our donated space at Harvard to capacity as attendees gathered for the first ever R/Pharma conference. Amidst a slew of impressive shiny applications (I vividly remember shiny being the decided tone-setting theme that year), one Andy Nicholls offered up a deceptively simple question: what should validated use of R look like?

The answer certainly didn’t get a firm answer at the conference, but it ignited a level of enthusiasm that spurred a Slack channel and a series of post- conference meetings to start hammering away at this problem. A year later, and the team had produced the first version of our white paper outlining a viable path forward. Within two years we had the basics of riskmetric – a tool for evaluating the various criteria outlined in the white paper. Participation grew, and an enthusastic community built a web-app around riskmetric to make it more accessible, giving way to the riskassessment app. Today, these tools are in use or inspiring the process across the industry, as has been evident in our case studies over the past year.

A Changing of the Guard

After an impressive track record of delivering and improving the adoption of open-source tools across the industry, Andy Nicholls has decided to step down from his position as Lead. We want to send a heartfelt “Thank You” to Andy for his leadership and enthusiasm that brought the R Validation Hub to this point. Now we get to embark on our next challenge, sustaining through personell turn- over which is an inevitable and critical aspect of sustaining any organization. We welcome Doug Kelkhoff, who will be taking over to lead the team.

New Faces at the R Validation Hub

While undergoing a change in leads, we wanted to take this transition period to reflect on where we’re at and where we want to improve. We held an internal survey to try to collectively decide on our next steps. We felt that a consistent strength has been our tools and technical support, but felt that there was still room for improvement in communications and long-term planning. It’s with those changes in mind that I want to announce two new initiatives:

Communications Workstream

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve welcomed three new contributors to launch our new communications workstream. This team will focus on how we build connections across the R world, specifically our neighboring initiatives: the R Consortium, PhUSE, PSI AIMS, the R Submissions Working Group and ROpenSci. We’re taking a new, critical look at how we share information and how we can be more intentional with how we organize ourselves. You can look forward to a new level of polish and consistency to the news you receive.

Strategic Workstream

To level our structure a bit, we’re also hoping to rebrand the “Executive Committee” as a strategic workstream, whose responsibiilities will be to align on longer-term strategic goals. Where the executive team has historicall been a mostly static set of contributors, we hope for it to become a floating set of representatives from each of our workstreams. With this in mind, we hope that the core roles become more fluid, allowing any contributors to rotate in as their work requires broader discussion.

As well, we plan to leverage the R Consortium’s Pharma Oversight Committee to ensure we’re aligned with the broader industry goals while also giving early visibility to what we’re planning. If you would like to see your company weighing in on the strategic directin of the R Validation Hub, the best way to do so would be to sponsor the R Consortium and in doing so join the oversight committe. In addition to sponsoring enterprises, we also plan to extend invitations to less represented groups within the pharmaceutical space such as small-scale research organizations (CRO’s), academia and research hospitals as well as organizations outside of the pharamceutical space entirely as the needs arise. If you would like to see such a group represented, please reach out so we can make sure those voices are heard.

For all open opportunities, please see our contributing page.