Today at the White House, President Obama welcomed guests, including Adam Resnick, PhD, representing The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, for a morning of remarks and discussions about what the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) has achieved to date, and how it can take the next steps into the new era of medicine that delivers the right treatment at the right time to the right person. One way CHOP will be an integral part of that effort is through its commitment to data-driven discovery in pediatrics.
The PMI, which President Obama first announced in his 2015 State of the Union speech, launched last year with a White House event attended by CHOP leukemia patient Emily Whitehead and by the hospital’s then-CEO, Steven Altschuler, MD. The pair was invited in recognition of the progress at CHOP and the University of Pennsylvania in developing an investigational precision-medicine T-cell therapy for cancer patients like Emily.
But that type of discovery is only one part of the precision medicine equation, according to Dr. Resnick, co-director and co-founder of CHOP’s new Center for Data-Driven Discovery in Biomedicine (D3B).
“Even to make a new T-cell therapy, you have to begin with data about what to target,” Dr. Resnick said. “The other side of the coin in harnessing the potential of precision medicine is empowering the pediatric community to share and use data transparently and collaboratively through initiatives that connect patients, clinicians, and researchers to that data.”
The D3B Center embodies and supports CHOP’s dedication to the development of open-access, data-driven discovery platforms that empower new diagnostic tools and personalized, precision therapies for rare childhood diseases and pediatric cancers. Its recent launch was highlighted as one of several outstanding commitments that represent the next phase of PMI progress from research institutions, foundations, and commercial partners in attendance at the White House event.
Dr. Resnick noted that the Center represents an important effort to address a disparity in access to precision medicine approaches in pediatric disease, resulting from the fact that pediatric data and biological samples are too often disparate and distributed across multiple institutions.
“Even at a place like CHOP, I would have to wait a very long time to collect enough brain tumors to generate enough data to compete with the amount of data already available through the National Institutes of Health about adult cancers like melanoma or lung cancer or breast cancer,” said Dr. Resnick, who is also an assistant professor of Neurosurgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “That has essentially forced us to focus on creating a collaborative network to get pediatric hospitals to work together. The way we are doing that is by embracing transparency and trust.”
Working with leading hospitals, industry partners, foundations, patients and their families, the Center’s initiatives include the launch of a multi-institutional, shared biorepository infrastructure and data analysis ecosystem that supports patient participation in collaborative pediatric cancer tissue-based research. Additional initiatives focus on the development of tools for patient access to their own data.
Today, timed to coincide with the White House PMI Summit, CHOP and biomedical data analysis company Seven Bridges announced another major initiative of the D3B Center: They are jointly developing Cavatica, a new cloud-based environment for securely storing, sharing and analyzing large volumes of pediatric cancer patient genomics data. Cavatica is built with the same “open science” vision and technology that powers the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Genomics Cloud pilot, which is the first to give cancer researchers secure and immediate access to one of the world’s largest genomic datasets and the computational resources required to analyze it.
More than a dozen institutions have already committed to share and collaborate with the platform of CHOP’s D3B Center.
To learn more about the Precision Medicine Initiative and the commitments announced at today’s White House Summit, see the White House fact sheet and the recent White House blog post highlighting the PMI’s progress in its first year.
To learn more about the Center for Data-Driven Discovery in Biomedicine (D3B) at CHOP, see the article in Bench to Bedside