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Campus Currents May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Cyber War on Cancer

Nearly four decades after Richard Nixon declared a “war on cancer,” the disease still claims the lives of 560,000 Americans every year. Now the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is looking for a ­better way to compare the effectiveness of cancer drugs and treatments, and UC San Diego is joining forces with the University of Texas
to create a Cyberinfrastructure for Comparative Effective­ness Research, or CYCORE.

Researchers from UC San Diego’s Calit2 and School of Medicine as well as the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas have been awarded a two-year, $3.8 million grant from NCI to prototype an infrastructure that will pull together and compare a wealth of cancer-related information. This will come from clinical trials, patient medical records, self-reported and objectively monitored social and behavioral data, data on cancer outcomes from regional cancer registries, and cost-benefit analyses.

 “A primary focus will be on tackling the problem of obtaining —in patients’ homes—objective, person-level data on behaviors such as adherence to cancer medications, diet, physical activity, sleep, environmental exposures and quality of life,” says Kevin Patrick, M.D., a professor of family and preventive medicine at
UC San Diego and director of Calit2’s Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems. “To have these data in near-continuous form will greatly expand our understanding of who does well on what treatment, when, why and for how long.”   

The UCSD team will design the cyberinfrastructure to handle aggregation, integration, processing, mining, storage and retrieval of data, including new wireless and brain-based device methods for data analysis. Subsequently M.D. Anderson physicians will test the prototype in clinical trials.

 “A robust infrastructure for data sharing in biomedical research is long overdue,” notes Lucila Ohno-Machado, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Division of Biomedical Informatics and professor in UCSD’s School of Medicine. “CYCORE will be filling an important role in comparative effectiveness research, which is critical for the development of a sustainable health care model.”

óDoug Ramsey