NY Genome Center enlists IBM to create Watson-enabled cancer research platform

The New York Genome Center (NYGC) has outlined the next phase of its alliance with IBM ($IBM), which will see the collaborators work to build an open platform of genotypic and phenotypic data for analysis by Watson.

IBM first revealed its involvement with the NYGC back in March 2014, at which time the brain cancer glioblastoma was the focal point of the collaboration. The scope of the alliance has now broadened. In an announcement timed to coincide with the White House Precision Medicine Initiative Summit, IBM and NYGC revealed they are planning to turn "Jeopardy!"-winning cognitive computing system Watson on genetic and clinical data from 200 cancer patients. The expectation is that Watson will shorten the time--and reduce the human effort--it takes to match a patient to a treatment.

"Our goal is to take that massive data and turn it into information that can be used for a patient who is waiting at the bedside," New York Genome Center CEO Robert Darnell told The Washington Post. This is phase one of the plan. If IBM and NYGC can secure funding from additional partners, they will broaden the size, scope and utility of the database. "Our vision is to create a comprehensive cancer data repository that combines whole genome, exome, targeted panel and phenotypic data in an open platform that will empower researchers and clinicians," Darnell said in a statement.

Armed with its Illumina ($ILMN) HiSeq X Ten system, NYGC is equipped to handle the sequencing component of this vision. The task of helping researchers and clinicians quickly interpret and make use of the data lies with IBM, which is pitching Watson as the tool to save healthcare and research from many of its current woes. In doing so, IBM has splurged more than $4 billion on acquisitions in less than one year, while simultaneously entering into collaborations with Apple ($AAPL), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and CVS Health ($CVS).

Having put this platform in place, IBM is now positioned to start demonstrating whether Watson can live up to the hype that surrounds the technology. And, by extension, prove that IBM's substantial bet on the healthcare sector can pay off and contribute to the resurgence of the tech veteran.

- read the release
- here's FierceMedicalDevices' take
- and the Washington Post's coverage