Doctors and researchers believe they can understand and eventually cure cancer through data sets, with Monday’s launch of the Genomic Data Commons (GDC), a system that promotes sharing of genomic and clinical data among researchers.
The GDC is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and aims to standardize and collect cancer data as part of the White House Cancer Moonshot.
“With the GDC, NCI has made a major commitment to maintaining long-term storage of cancer genomic data and providing researchers with free access to these data,” said NCI acting director Douglas Lowy. “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.”
The system was built and is maintained by the University of Chicago Center for Data Intensive Science, in collaboration with the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, and Vice President Joe Biden was on the Chicago campus on Monday to celebrate the launch.
The data housed in the GDC comes primarily from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and its pediatric equivalent, Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments (TARGET). However, the GDC is accepting data from any cancer researcher who wishes to be part of the program, as well as NIC-sponsored research.
“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 Louis M. Staudt at NCI. “These data sets will lead to a much deeper understanding of which therapies are most effective for individual cancer patients. With each new addition, the GDC will evolve into a smarter, more comprehensive knowledge system that will foster important discoveries in cancer research and increase the success of cancer treatment for patients.”
The hope is that this system will allow researchers to discover trends in tumors and their best treatment options. Creators of the GDC also believe the system will provide data for future, advanced computational methods that could lead to treatment breakthroughs.