NIH launches database to aggregate and share genomic data for Cancer Moonshot

The NIH launched the Genomic Data Commons on Monday to promote the sharing of genomic and clinical cancer data. It's just the latest push in the National Cancer Moonshot created by Vice President Joe Biden earlier this year, an effort to "break down silos" between groups working in oncology.

The GDC is being built and managed by the University of Chicago Center for Data Intensive Science along with the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, under a National Cancer Institute contract with Maryland's Leidos Biomedical Research.

Data from thousands of cancer patients and tumors will be harmonized in the GDC to ensure they are accessible and "broadly useful" to any cancer researcher, the NIH said in a statement. The GDC will include data from large-scale NCI programs, such as The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments (TARGET), two of the largest and most comprehensive cancer genomics data sets in the world. The GDC will also accept data submissions from researchers around the world, allowing them to use its analytics capabilities and to compare their findings with other data in the GDC, the NIH said.

"Importantly, the explanatory power of data in the GDC will grow over time as data from more patients are included, and ultimately the GDC will accelerate our efforts in precision medicine," said NCI Acting Director Dr. Douglas Lowy, in the statement. The GDC benefits from $70 million given to the NCI to lead cancer genomics work as part of President Barack Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative.

"Of particular significance, the GDC will also house data from a number of newer NCI programs that will sequence the DNA of patients enrolled in NCI clinical trials," said the NCI's Dr. Louis Staudt in the statement. "These datasets will lead to a much deeper understanding of which therapies are most effective for individual cancer patients."

The GDC joins the Oncology Precision Network, which launched just last week, and aims to increase cancer patient access to clinical trials and to advance cancer care through data sharing. The OPN is a consortium including Intermountain Healthcare and the Stanford Cancer Institute. It anticipates it will begin with 100,000 data sets in its database, spanning 79 hospitals and 800 clinics across 11 states, and has plans to add more health systems later this year.

- read the statement

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