Form follows function: model-driven engineering for clinical trials

Jim Davies*, Jeremy Gibbons, Radu Calinescu, Charles Crichton, Steve Harris, Andrew Tsui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


We argue that, for certain constrained domains, elaborate model transformation technologies-implemented from scratch in general-purpose programming languages-are unnecessary for model-driven engineering; instead, lightweight configuration of commercial off-the-shelf productivity tools suffices. In particular, in the CancerGrid project, we have been developing model-driven techniques for the generation of software tools to support clinical trials. A domain metamodel captures the community's best practice in trial design. A scientist authors a trial protocol, modelling their trial by instantiating the metamodel; customized software artifacts to support trial execution are generated automatically from the scientist's model. The metamodel is expressed as an XML Schema, in such a way that it can be instantiated by completing a form to generate a conformant XML document. The same process works at a second level for trial execution: among the artifacts generated from the protocol are models of the data to be collected, and the clinician conducting the trial instantiates such models in reporting observations-again by completing a form to create a conformant XML document, representing the data gathered during that observation. Simple standard form management tools are all that is needed. Our approach is applicable to a wide variety of information-modelling domains: not just clinical trials, but also electronic public sector computing, customer relationship management, document workflow, and so on.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFoundations of health informatics engineering and systems
Subtitle of host publicationfirst international symposium, FHIES 2011, Johannesburg, South Africa, August 29-30, 2011. Revised Selected Papers
EditorsZhiming Liu, Alan Wassyng
Place of PublicationBerlin (DE)
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-642-32355-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-642-32354-6
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event1st International Symposium on Foundations of Health Informatics Engineering and Systems, FHIES 2011 - Johannesburg, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Aug 201130 Aug 2011

Publication series

NameLecture notes in computer science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference1st International Symposium on Foundations of Health Informatics Engineering and Systems, FHIES 2011
CountryUnited Kingdom


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