U.S. VP Biden Announces Cancer Moonshot Initiative at ASCO Annual Meeting

GDC Biden Cancer Research Initiative

During his “Cancer Moonshot Initiative” speech at the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago just a few weeks ago, Vice President Joe Biden announced the National Cancer Institute (NCI) database called the Genomic Data Commons (GDC) as the premier oncology resource platform deemed capable of supporting his vision of making data-sharing a reality by stressing the importance of developing a new mindset.

“Imagine if you all worked together,” said the vice president, adding, “I’m not joking.”

Biden repeatedly stressed the importance of breaking down the regulatory and structural barriers to both; genomic cancer sequencing data and pooling data from clinical trials. He argued that an industry-wide collaborative effort would hasten more targeted, personalized, and effective cancer treatments at a time when considering innovative new trending treatments such as immunotherapy, also known as biologic therapy or biotherapy.

“All information from trials funded by NCI from this point on will have to be submitted to the database,” Biden said.

The idea behind the database is to create a single repository for both patients’ clinical trial data and the genetic specifics of their cancers, including history of therapies they’ve received and how effective they were. While initially it will combine existing NCI datasets, the GDC is projected to grow by as much as several petabytes of information annually as more scientists contribute to it.

“[T]he GDC will accept submissions of cancer genomic and clinical data from researchers around the world who wish to share their data broadly,” the NIH explained on its website. “In so doing, researchers will be able to use the state-of-the-art analytic methods of the GDC, allowing them to compare their findings with other data in the GDC.”

While the GDC is an ambitious and daunting task to bear, it’s clear that the government also recognizes that eliminating data silos will be critical for battling cancer—and on a bipartisan basis at that, according to the vice president.

“This is the only bipartisan thing in America right now,” said Biden.

Cancer trial data-sharing has now become the top priority for many business leaders pursuing cures.

Joseph Bryant
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