National Cancer Informatics hub building a community to accelerate cancer research, discovery

  • September 24, 2014
  • Science Highlights

In search of a platform to build a collaborative community of cancer informatics researchers, Ishwar Chandramouliswaran came across, a nanotechnology website which seemed to have everything he and his colleagues wanted.

It could do things such as disseminate and share data and make available tools for doing real research with that data, even visualizing it. The hub also could be used to publish standards for working with the data and the tools, as well as to publish research results and to track metrics on what resources people were using and how. Its collaborative features allowed users to work together and also share the load in populating the site with resources and keeping them updated, along with sharing tips and techniques with each other, not to mention multimedia educational and training materials.

Then, Chandramouliswaran found out that the platform behind — a ready-made cyberinfrastructure for research and education called HUBzero, developed at Purdue by ITaP — could be used to create an interactive, Web-based hub for almost any field. The result is

“All of the goals that we had seemed to fit nicely with the capabilities of HUBzero,” says Chandramouliswaran, a program manager for the National Cancer Informatics Program (NCIP) at the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology. “Many of these capabilities are available in different tools and platforms, but HUBzero puts them all in one place.”

Chandramouliswaran will be talking about at HUBbub 2014, the annual conference for users and would-be users of HUBzero. The award-winning HUBzero now powers more than 60 hubs driving research in fields such as nanotechnology, cancer research in a variety of forms, pharmaceutical manufacturing, earthquake mitigation and disaster management, volcanology, environmental modeling, biofuels, and the bonds between humans and companion animals.

The two-day conference for researchers, practitioners, educators and IT professionals takes place Monday and Tuesday, September 29 and 30 in Indianapolis. For more information, visit the HUBbub 2014 website.

Chandramouliswaran’s focus at the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, is on innovative programs and technology supporting open and collaborative team science to accelerate research in the cancer informatics community. We now have a lot of data on cancer. Researchers in cancer informatics are concerned with techniques and tools for mining this data to generate insights that lead to discovery in cancer research and, ultimately, benefit human health.

Since the pilot went online earlier this year, the has begun attracting a user base of cancer researchers working in such areas as informatics, animal modeling, medical imaging, nanotechnology-based cancer research, data standards and more, Chandramouliswaran says. The goal is for the hub to become a virtual “informatics marketplace” for the biomedical informatics community supporting and performing cancer research.

“We designed HUBzero for precisely this purpose — to connect researchers with data sets, with analysis tools, and with one another to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery,” says Michael McLennan, director of the HUBzero Platform for Scientific Collaboration at Purdue.

In addition to hands-on learning sessions and more than two dozen speakers who are experts in cyberinfrastructure, team science and community sharing, the HUBbub conference also will feature the release of the latest open source HUBzero bundle. HUBzero 1.3 includes dozens of new features. Some highlights:

  • Integration of ORCID, which issues unique identifiers for authors and links diverse sources of publications, lectures, presentations and even HUBzero tools they’ve created.

  • A redesigned, simpler login page with InCommon integration permitting a hub’s users to use their home institution credentials for secure HUBzero logins.

  • Incorporation of the WYSIWYG rich text editor CKEditor.

  • Improved password encryption for added security.

A major HUBzero feature is its ability to rapidly deploy computational research codes, and visualize and analyze results, all through a Web browser. Built-in social networking creates communities in almost any field or subject matter and facilitates communication and collaboration, publishing and distribution of research results, and training and education. Moreover, the platform has a growing set of sophisticated data management and interactive database capabilities.

Originally posted: September 24, 2014 3:50pm EDT