Using ‘Big Data’ Against Cancer

Posted on February 26th, 2015 by msequeira

The University of New Mexico Cancer Center has joined the world’s largest precision cancer research collaboration to speed development of targeted cancer treatments. Anchored by The Moffitt Cancer Center and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James), the collaboration now has six members. All six have designation from the National Cancer Institute.

Members of the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network will collect tissue and genomic information from patients who consent to take part in the cancer research. They will share the data with researchers at ORIEN institutions after the tissue and genomic samples have been stripped of identifying details. The goal of the research is to develop more targeted and effective cancer treatments.

Cheryl Willman, MD

Cheryl Willman, MD

This 'big data' approach — using the extensive databases with [de-identified] cancer patient information — puts cancer genomics on the leading edge of precision medicine. “Through ORIEN, we will ensure that the multiethnic, multicultural populations of New Mexico and the American Southwest, primarily Hispanic, non-Hispanic White, and American Indian, will benefit from new personalized cancer medicine initiatives,” says Cheryl Willman, MD. Willman is director and CEO of the UNM Cancer Center. “In turn,” she says, “the inclusion of our patients may allow ORIEN to uncover unique cancer-causing mutations and mechanisms associated with the distinct patterns of cancer incidence, mortality, and disparity that affect minority and special populations.”

The new members of ORIEN will adopt Total Cancer Care®, the protocol created by Moffitt in 2006 and now in use at OSUCCC-James. The protocol creates a standard system for tracking patient molecular, clinical and epidemiological data. People who consent to take part in this research agree to be followed throughout their lifetime: they will be contacted for future studies, play an active role in the study of their cancer, and help to improve cancer care for future generations.


Read the ORIEN press release. View "The Morning Brew" interview with Dr. Willman, Dr. Ness and Dr. Rixe to learn more about ORIEN at UNM Cancer Center.

Members of ORIEN include:

  • The Moffitt Cancer Center
  • The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute
  • City of Hope
  • University of Virginia Cancer Center
  • University of Colorado Cancer Center
  • University of New Mexico Cancer Center

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