Roswell Park to serve as data center hub for Cancer Moonshot
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y. will serve as the data-integration and resource-sharing hub for the Cancer Moonshot’s Immuno-Oncology Translational Network.
The National Cancer Institute has awarded Roswell Park $6.28 million to establish the data center to provide technical and logistical support as well as resources to 13 Cancer Moonshot sites within the Immuno-Oncology Translational Network, which is meant to speed development of new immune-based treatment approaches and prevention strategies.
The effort will also leverage the State University of New York at Buffalo’s Center for Computational Research for back-end support to provide high-performance computing and data storage.
“Cancer science is now a data-driven science, and computational methods are now a fundamental part of cancer research,” says Alan Hutson, chair of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at Roswell Park and associate director of the Biostatistics Shared Resource. “Fifty years ago, it was a test tube and a beaker. Now it always includes a computer and a quantitative scientist.”
According to Hutson, Roswell Park’s new Data Management and Resource-Sharing Center will develop software tools and create a data portal for the 13 Immuno-Oncology Translational Network sites.
“Each site may have its own high-tech genomic sequence capabilities so we need to be nimble enough to be able to understand all the technical capabilities of the individual sites,” he adds. “Ultimately, the data comes to Roswell Park and we need to quality control that data no matter what platform is used.”
Hutson and Kunle Odunsi, MD, chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and executive director of the Center for Immunotherapy at Roswell Park, have been named as inaugural chair and co-chair of the steering committee appointed to govern the Cancer Moonshot’s Immuno-Oncology Translational Network.
The goal of NCI’s Cancer Moonshot is to achieve a decade’s worth of progress against the disease in just five years. Critical to the success of the initiative will be open access and rapid sharing of research data and results allowing researchers to build on each other’s successes—and failures—in order to make new discoveries faster.
“The individual sites working alone are all great researchers, but it’s the sharing of data that is the power of the network,” says Hutson. “When we combine and integrate these large datasets across the sites, that’s where new mechanisms across cancer types are discovered.”
“There’s massive amounts of data—we’re talking terabytes of data,” notes Hutson, who adds that electronic health records will “not be used for this project, maybe the next phase—currently, we’re doing more wet lab-type science at the moment and will shift into a translational phase further down the road.”