Joe Biden unveils precision medicine database at University of Chicago

Genomic Data Commons pulls data from National Cancer Institute programs and contains more than two petabytes of cancer genomic datasets.
By Jessica Davis
11:18 AM
Joe Biden precision medicine

Vice President Joe Biden unveiled the precision medicine database on Monday, speaking at its operations center at the University of Chicago.

The project, named Genomic Data Commons, is a National Cancer Institute initiative and is central to the National Cancer Moonshot and Precision Medicine Initiative. Funding of $70 million will be allocated from NCI for cancer genomics projects under PMI.

The platform creates a centralized database, which pulls information from large-scale NCI programs such as The Cancer Genome Atlas and the Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments, or TARGET, a pediatric cancer database. 

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Genomic Data Commons contains over two petabytes of data and some of the most comprehensive cancer genomics datasets in the world, Biden told the meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, after the platform was unveiled.

"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," Louis M. Staudt, MD, principal investigator at National Institutes of Health, said in a statement. “These datasets will lead to a much deeper understanding of which therapies are most effective for individual cancer patients."

The moonshot initiative aimed at curing all cancers is "the only bipartisan thing left in America," Biden told the gathered ASCO members. He spoke to members to promote advances in data sharing and urge the facilitation of personalized treatments and the collaboration of genomic and clinical data.

"More than any other specialty, oncologists have to explore the unknown with their patients," said Biden. "No single oncologist or cancer researcher can find the answers on their own. It’s our hope that Genomic Data Commons will prove pivotal in advancing precision medicine."

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Team science should be promoted, rewarded – and expected, Biden said. He hopes this initiative will allow researchers to spend more time in the lab finding a cure for cancer and less time writing proposals.

"Imagine if you all worked together?" he said. "I commend your diligence and urge you in your endeavors so new revelations can continue to emerge. … There aren’t easy answers, but no one knows the preamble or solution better than those assembled today."

Genomic Data Commons is being built and managed by the University of Chicago Center for Data Intensive Science in collaboration with the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, which are under NCI contract with Maryland-based Leidos Biomedical Research.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
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