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CHOP Launches Data Center for Advancement of Precision Medicine

January 28, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has launched a new scientific data center with the goal of advancing precision medicine.

Much of the effort at the Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine will target highly specific, even unique, biological abnormalities in childhood cancers; the center will also focus on other rare pediatric diseases. The CHOP Research Institute and CHOP's Department of Biomedical Health and Informatics have jointly launched the center, which will be the first of its kind with a pediatric focus, according to CHOP officials.

Under its "open science" model, the center will look to drive the secure generation and integration of complex genomic and clinical patient data, and develop the open-access platforms that support collaborative discovery. Researchers worldwide will be able to access this information and work together to fully empower and share ideas and approaches for new biological targets for precise, less toxic clinical treatments on behalf of children, according to officials.

"The genomics revolution ushered in by the first sequencing of the human genome early last decade is a watershed moment in discovery, opening up ever-growing paths to new disease treatments," Adam Resnick, Ph.D., founding director of the new center, said in a statement. "However, the challenge of 'big data' lies in accessing, harnessing and sharing this flood of information, especially for pediatrics."

Phillip Storm, M.D., division chief of Neurosurgery and the center's co-director, elaborated on this theme, in a CHOP press release: "Change is urgently needed in pediatric research, where territorial boundaries, scarce data, and limited technological infrastructures impede medical progress. Our center has a goal of developing new models for collaboration, data sharing and scientific integration." Joining Resnick and Storm in the Center development efforts is Jena Lilly, the Center's director of operations and strategic planning.

Both directors have been committed to working with the White House and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) on the Administration's Precision Medicine Initiative. That initiative was further reinforced by the "Moonshot" cancer cures initiative announced in the 2016 State of the Union Address and by Vice President Joe Biden's Jan. 15 visit with cancer experts, including CHOP researchers, in Philadelphia. "The Vice President spoke of breaking down silos to bring cancer fighters together to share data and ideas," said Resnick. "One of our major goals is to prioritize connectivity and collaboration over ownership of information."

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