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The White House
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release

FACT SHEET: Vice President Biden Launches Open Access Data Resource as Part of Cancer Moonshot

This is good news in the fight against cancer. With the launch of this new national resource, anyone can freely access raw genomic and clinical data for 12,000 patients - with more records to follow. Increasing the pool of researchers who can access data and decreasing the time it takes for them to review and find new patterns in that data is critical to speeding up development of lifesaving treatments for patients."

-Vice President Joe Biden

Making a decade’s worth of progress in five years in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer – the goal of the Cancer Moonshot launched by the President in his 2016 State of the Union Address and led by Vice President Joe Biden – will take all resources possible, and data is a particularly valuable one. 

Today, in support of making research data freely accessible, the Vice President will visit the University of Chicago to mark the public release of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Genomic Data Commons (GDC), a first-of-its-kind public data platform for storing, analyzing, and sharing genomic and associated clinical data on cancer. The GDC creates a foundational system for broad sharing and analysis of tumor genome sequences (the DNA unique to cancer cells), which is critical for advancing the field of precision medicine and improving the care of cancer patients, and is designed with appropriate privacy and security protections

This launch marks progress on both the Cancer Moonshot and the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which are aimed at enabling individualized care through effective prevention, diagnosis, and therapies.  By providing open access to large volumes of data to advance progress in cancer (with appropriate patient consent), the GDC continues the Administration’s legacy on opening up data, particularly to support health.   

The next breakthrough in cancer treatment will be advanced by rapid access to the datasets that can help researchers understand more about how cancer progresses and which treatments have the best chance of working for individual patients. In recent years, vast amounts of genomic data have been generated through the use of “next-generation” DNA and RNA sequencing technologies, and researchers are eager to unlock new patterns of discovery that lie within this treasure trove of information. The GDC is a critical step in crowdsourcing rich data to researchers from across the community. Some key features of the GDC are:

  • Interactive: The GDC is an interactive and centralized system for researchers to store, analyze, and share genomic and clinical cancer data.  The GDC has important safeguards built-in to protect patient privacy and enable secure data downloading.
  • Easily searchable: Researchers will be able to search for the data they need. When fully implemented, information on treatment response can advance our understanding of specific subtypes of cancer that are susceptible to current treatments and those that are resistant.
  • Testbed for new approaches: The NCI GDC is unique in that it provides raw, unprocessed genomic data, allowing researchers to reanalyze the information as new computational tools and analytical methods are developed.
  • Computational capabilities:  Web-based tools supporting fine-grained queries, advanced visualization, smart search technologies, and personalized download facilities to enable a wide-range of users of varying computational expertise.
  • Rich dataset: At its launch, the GDC will standardize genomic and clinical data from large-scale NCI programs, such as The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and its pediatric equivalent, Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Therapies (TARGET). These data, initially represent more than ten thousand cancer patients and their tumors and the GDC will accommodate cancer genomic sets that cancer researchers from around the world wish to share.