Cancer Data Plays Crucial Role

“It is clear that cancer informatics and the ability for the research community and patients to obtain the data is essential in our war on cancer”, stated Warren A. Kibbe, PhD, Director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology (CBIIT)  at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) He voiced these thoughts at the 2016 OSEHRA Summit on June 28, 2016.

Vice President Joe Biden has put the spotlight on the “Cancer Moonshot” program with the goal to double the pace of cancer discovery in the next five years. This means that large sets of cancer information along with information on related policies and standards will have to be easily available to not only researchers but also to the public.

The Vice Present wants to break down silos and share information to win the war on cancer. As Kibbe reports, “Open data will now equal open science. So far, at CBIIT, the software code is out in the open source community.”

NCI’s Genomic Data Commons (GDC) provides the cancer research community with a unified data repository that enables data sharing across cancer genomic studies to support precision medicine. Tools are provided to guide data submissions by researchers and institutions.

GDC on June 29, 2016 signed a data sharing agreement between NCI and Foundation Medicine, Inc. (FMI) resulting in the addition of data from 18,000 adult patients with a diverse array of cancers. This data will undergo genomic profiling using FMI’s comprehensive genomic profiling assay called “FoundationOne”.

The expanded number of cancer cases located in the GDC will enable researchers to identify genomic changes that are responsible for the cancerous growth of tumors in individual patients and will identify which drugs may block the effects of these mutations.

Kibbe also mentioned that three contracts were awarded to develop Cloud Pilots. The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), and Seven Bridges Genomics received awards and each group is now developing infrastructure and a set of tools to access, explore, and analyze molecular data.

The three Cloud Pilots have chosen to implement their systems through commercial cloud providers and are collaborating on adopting common standards. However, the three project teams have distinct system designs, data presentations, and analysis resources to serve the cancer research community.

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