Intel ($INTC) has signed Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Ontario Institute for Cancer Research up to its Collaborative Cancer Cloud. The cancer institutes join Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) on the cloud platform, which Intel has designed to facilitate the large-scale sharing of patient data without compromising privacy or security.
OHSU and Intel have worked on the platform for more than two years, culminating in the partners going public with their desire to sign up other research institutes in August. At the time, Intel said it expected two, as-then-undisclosed research groups to join the project in 2016, a promise that it has delivered on with the confirmation of deals with Dana-Farber and Ontario Institute. The two new participants will join OHSU in sharing data through Intel's cloud, which uses a secure virtual machine to allow organizations to pool resources while retaining control of patient information.
"What Intel has done is very clever," Dr. Barrett Rollins, chief scientific officer at Dana-Farber, told Portland Business Journal. "The data continues to sit at the institutions, while there's computation between the centers. That's one of the more secure ways to deal with clinical data."
The upshot is of Intel's approach is that Dana-Farber, Ontario Institute and OHSU feel comfortable enough with the privacy and security it provides to share data through the cloud platform. Initially, the three institutions hope to use machine learning techniques to identify novel analytic approaches that extract insights from molecular and imaging data. Each of the organizations could embark on such an initiative unpartnered, but they perceive value in partnering to expand the size of the dataset being analyzed.
"Even for a place like ours, when you start asking questions about cancers, you don't have sufficient numbers to answers questions in a rigorous way," Rollins said. "The only way to answer them is to combine our data with others."