Communications and Marketing

Making efficient use of Big Data in medicine

The DKFZ participates in a project by the Helmholtz Association on research data management

No. 42c | 14/10/2016 | by Sel

Large experiments and simulations in science today generate ever increasing amounts of data. In order to turn this data and information into insights and knowledge however, scientists also need storage capacities and analytical potential of a new quality. The Helmholtz Association is now leading the way in storing data permanently, securely and re-usably. In order to manage Big Data in science, the association has founded the Helmholtz Data Federation (HDF). Around 49.5 million Euros will be invested over the next 5 years in multi-thematic data centers and in modern data management. In the context of the HDF initiative coordinated by KIT in Karlsruhe, the DKFZ is responsible for the data accruing in healthcare.

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"Biomedical research generates ever larger quantities of data that need to be analyzed. In cancer research for example, this happens as a result of the sequencing of the entire genetic material of cancer cells, or on account of new imaging procedures", explains Michael Boutros, Scientific Director at DKFZ.

The DKFZ cooperates with other Helmholtz Research centers to develop new methods to utilize this enormous wealth of data in the best possible way. This includes pooling scientific data, sharing data whilst maintaining data ownership, using data across disciplinary boundaries, and providing reliable data archiving capabilities. "Everybody is now talking about Big Data. In medical research, a vast amount of data is generated, which needs to be pooled, so that it can be used in a meaningful way. The integration of data harbors great potential to discover new medically relevant correlations. The combined results of genome analysis and images from radiology can provide valuable clues about effective treatment for cancer patients. This however demands specialized technologies and methods, which we intend to develop further within the framework of the HDF" explains Roland Eils, who coordinates the contribution of medical research in the HDF together with the head of IT at DKFZ, Holger Haas.

Further information:

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institute in Germany. At DKFZ, more than 1,000 scientists investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and endeavor to find new strategies to prevent people from getting cancer. They develop novel approaches to make tumor diagnosis more precise and treatment of cancer patients more successful. The staff of the Cancer Information Service (KID) offers information about the widespread disease of cancer for patients, their families, and the general public. Jointly with Heidelberg University Hospital, DKFZ has established the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, where promising approaches from cancer research are translated into the clinic. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of six German Centers for Health Research, DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partnering sites. Combining excellent university hospitals with high-profile research at a Helmholtz Center is an important contribution to improving the chances of cancer patients. DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers, with ninety percent of its funding coming from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the remaining ten percent from the State of Baden-Württemberg.

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