As part of his National Cancer Moonshot, Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced several new data sharing initiatives to double the rate of progress in the fight against cancer.

Biden, whose son Beau died of cancer last year, made the announcements during a Cancer Moonshot Summit held June 28 at Howard University in Washington.

The Cancer Moonshot is aimed at making more therapies available to more patients, while also improving the nation’s ability to prevent cancer and detect it in an early stage. With more than 1.6 million Americans diagnosed with cancer each year, the goal of the initiative is to make a decade’s worth of progress in five years by unleashing the power of big data.

"We have to create better systems to share data and to empower patients to share and use their data the way they want to," said Biden. "In other sectors like physics and aerospace, scientists share complex information seamlessly and ubiquitously, all the time. But somehow, I guess from a hundred years of tradition, not in medicine."

To address the problem, the Vice President announced a set of new public and private sector actions in support of the Cancer Moonshot:

The National Cancer Institute, in partnership with the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows, will redesign how patients and oncologists learn about and find information about cancer clinical trials. The first phase will make cancer clinical data hosted on available through an application programming interface (API) for advocacy groups, academia and others in the cancer ecosystem. The API will enable third-party innovators, including Smart Patients, Syapse, Cure Forward, and Trial Reach, to use the new cancer clinical trial API to build apps, integrations, search tools and digital platforms tailored to individual communities that bring clinical trial information to more providers, patients and their family members.

The Department of Energy, in partnership with NCI, is launching three new pilot projects focused on bringing together nearly 100 cancer researchers, care providers, computer scientists and engineers to apply the nation's most advanced supercomputing capabilities to analyze data from preclinical models in cancer, molecular interaction data for RAS and cancer surveillance data across four DOE National Laboratories: Argonne, Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Oak Ridge, in conjunction with the NCI Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.

Foundation Medicine is more than doubling the total number of patients represented within NCI's Genomic Data Commons (GDC), bringing its total to more than 32,000 patients accumulated in just over a month. At its launch in early June, the GDC already shared more than five petabytes of raw unprocessed genomic data from large research projects on nearly 30 tumor types from more than 14,000 patients, along with associated clinical data (such as clinical diagnosis, treatment history and survival data), creating a foundational system for broad sharing and analysis of cancer genomic data.

The Department of Veterans Affairs and DOE are collaborating to apply the most powerful computational assets at the DOE’s National Labs to nearly half a million veterans' records from one of the world's largest research cohorts—the Million Veteran Program, part of the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative. This is a five-year renewable commitment with $3.5 million allocated in Fiscal Year 2016. The first phase of this partnership will focus on cancer, cardiovascular disease and mental health issues. The resulting platform will accelerate the understanding of disease detection, progression, prevention and treatment by combining clinical, environmental and genomic data.

DOE, NCI and GlaxoSmithKline have formed a new public-private partnership designed to harness high-performance computing and diverse biological data to accelerate the drug discovery process and bring new cancer therapies from target to first in human trials in less than a year. The partnership will bring together scientists from multiple disciplines to advance the understanding of cancer by finding patterns in vast and complex datasets to accelerate the development of new cancer therapies.

Intermountain Healthcare, Stanford Cancer Institute, Providence Health & Services, Catholic Health Initiative, Henry Ford Health System and Syapse have joined together to launch OPeN, the Oncology Precision Network. OPeN will advance cancer care through sharing of cancer genomics data, rapidly bringing the most promising treatment insights to cancer patients and physicians with the potential of increasing access to clinical trials. With its current membership, OPeN comprises data and physicians across 11 states, 79 hospitals and 800 clinics, and will impact 50,000 new cancer cases per year. OPeN pledges to expand its impact across the United States by onboarding at least five new healthcare systems in the next 12 months, focusing on community healthcare systems outside of the currently-served states in order to bring the best quality cancer care to patients in other geographic regions.

IBM and the VA are launching a public-private partnership to help doctors scale access to precision medicine for 10,000 American veterans with cancer over the next two years. IBM will provide Watson for Genomics, which has been trained for genomic analysis, to scientists and pathologists that have sequenced DNA for VA cancer patients to help them identify the likely cancer-causing mutations and treatment options that target those specific mutations—a data-intensive process that has been time consuming and difficult to scale in the past.

PatientCrossroads and DNAnexus have partnered on the Integrated Data Engagement Analytics (IDEA) platform to facilitate patient consented sharing of genetic, proteomic and electronic health records/phenotypic data to accelerate disease research. This pioneering program leverages the rights of patients to request their raw genetic testing files, proteomic data, and EHRs and to share this rich data in the IDEA platform for deep analysis.

(This article appears courtesy of our sister publication, Health Data Management)

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