VA & DOE Partnering on Big Data

The VA and the Department of Energy (DOE) have formed a new partnership focused on the secure analysis of large digital health and genomic data, or “big data” from the VA and other federal sources.

The goal is to help advance healthcare for veterans and others in areas such as suicide prevention, cancer, and heart disease, while also driving DOE’s next-generation supercomputing designs.

To be known as the “VA-DOE Big Data Science Initiative”, the partnership will be based within DOE’s National Laboratory System. The effort will encompass the latest DOE expertise and technologies in big data, artificial intelligence, and high performance computing to identify trends that will support developing new treatments and preventive strategies.

Data will come from a new initiative called “MVP Computational Health Analytics for Medical Precision to Improve Outcomes Now” or (MVP-CHAMPION) plus health data from the Department of Defense, CMS, and CDC’s National Death Index.

Several specific studies are planned. One study aims to build algorithms to generate highly tailored personalized risk scores for suicide. The scores could be used by VA clinicians and researchers to help predict which patients are at the highest risk and to evaluate prevention strategies.

Another project to focus on prostate cancer will seek new ways to tell which tumors are lethal versus nonlethal cancer and which tumors would require treatment. Also studied would be tumors that are slow growing and unlikely to cause any symptoms.

Another study will explore what sets of risk factors are the best predictors of certain forms of cardiovascular disease so that doctors and patients can decide on individualized therapies and treatments based on their individual risk factors.

“VA has developed unparalleled health data trend information from some 24 million veterans who have used VA for healthcare over the past two decades,” said VA Secretary D. David J. Shulkin. “We are partnering with DOE to use their high-performance computing capabilities to allow thousands of researchers to access this unprecedented data resource over time in a secure environment.”

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