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OHSU Cancer Institute to Help Lead International High-Tech Cancer Research Collaboration

   Portland, Ore.

Project will help speed development of new cancer therapies

The National Cancer Institute has selected the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute to help develop the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG), an information network that will accelerate all aspects of cancer research by linking scientists throughout the world.

"We believe CaBIG will become the World Wide Web of cancer research informatics and will accelerate the development of exciting discoveries in all areas of cancer research," said Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., director of the National Cancer Institute. "CaBIG will be a critical asset in meeting the NCI's challenge goal of eliminating suffering and death due to cancer by the year 2015."

CaBIG is a voluntary, open-source, open-access initiative that is being designed and built in partnership with the NCI cancer center community. Clinicians and researchers at the OHSU Cancer Institute will work with 60 other NCI-designated cancer centers across the country to create a first-of-its-kind information infrastructure linking teams of cancer researchers, enabling them to better share data and tools in an open environment with common standards.

"Because research institutions have developed their databases and tools independently from one another, some of the key challenges in advancing this research have been sharing data, integrating clinical and basic science data, and mining this data for possible therapeutic targets," said Grover Bagby Jr., M.D., director of the OHSU Cancer Institute. "By building caBIG in cooperation with other members of the cancer research community, the OHSU Cancer Institute seeks to help solve this problem."

As the grid is established during the next year, organizers hope to attract additional partners to the network from within the NCI and its grantees, other National Institutes of Health components, interested federal health agencies, industry groups and the broader biomedical research community.

"Our vision of the grid is that of a cancer research network that can elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms of the disease and identify therapeutic targets. This is done by rapid development of applications, algorithms and tools to achieve this goal, as well as key infrastructure to facilitate cross-institution collaboration and sharing of expertise," said Shannon McWeeney, Ph.D., the OHSU Cancer Institute's lead on the project.

Individual cancer centers have been tapped to participate in specific aspects of the project. The OHSU Cancer Institute will participate in the Integrative Cancer Research workspace, which will enable translational research that depends upon the integration of clinical and basic research data. OHSU Cancer Institute members will serve on two strategic level planning groups -- one involved in data sharing and intellectual capital and the other in training and education.

Biomedical informatics, which deals with the optimal use of biomedical information, data and knowledge, will be a key element in the project.

"CaBIG can have a huge national impact if the cancer centers can be networked at the informatics level," McWeeney said. "Collaborations among centers would become easier to initiate and complete for clinical, basic research and translational studies, allowing clinical trials to be completed more quickly in multi-institutional center settings and facilitating advances in new frontiers such as cancer systems biology and genotype-phenotype correlative analyses."

CaBIG has a budget of $20 million for the first year of the pilot. Similar funding levels are anticipated for the program's second and third years.

Grover Bagby Jr., M.D., director of the OHSU Cancer Institute; professor of medicine (hematology and medical oncology) and of molecular and medical genetics in the OHSU School of Medicine; head of hematology/oncology at Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center; and a member of the Association of American Physicians.

Shannon McWeeney, Ph.D., assistant professor of public health and preventive medicine and of medical informatics and outcomes research in the OHSU School of Medicine; assistant professor of computer science and engineering in the OHSU OGI School of Science and Engineering; and a member of the OHSU Cancer Institute.

For more information about the OHSU Cancer Institute, visit

Visit for more information on caBIG.

Visit for an interactive overview of caBIG.

To access all OHSU news releases, visit

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