Search SciPol

Brought to you by
October 19, 2016

Microsoft and Amazon work with National Cancer Institute on Joe Biden's cancer moonshot

  • Executive
  • Genetics/Genomics

Puget Sound Business Journal - One thing has become increasingly clear as Vice President Joe Biden embarks on a cancer moonshot to dramatically accelerate efforts in cancer research: collaboration and data are key.

Seattle is in a unique position in that regard. When it comes to connecting genetic scientists with cloud computing developers – something that is expected to accelerate research – there’s no better place than the Puget Sound. It is home to world-renowned cancer research institutes and two of the largest cloud companies: Amazon and Microsoft.

In an update on the cancer moonshot, Biden said his team has announced 54 new private sector actions and collaborations, in addition to new federal efforts.

Among the newest collaborations announced Monday, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) partnered with both Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN).

The two technology companies are helping NCI build a sustainable model for maintaining cancer genomic data in the cloud for use by cancer researchers through the NCI's data sharing pilot platforms: Genomic Data Commons and Cancer Genomics Cloud.

These public-private collaborations, according to a White House fact sheet, will provide cancer researchers with secure access to high-quality cancer genomic and associated data. By providing avenues for cloud storage, genomic analysis, visualization and computation, the collaborations help maximize the ability of researchers to mine cancer data for answers to reduce the impact of cancer on the American people and the world.

The NCI has already began working with Dr. Leroy Hood's Institute for Systems Biology as well as the Broad Institute and Seven Bridges Genomics on these pilot programs.

These new partnerships with Microsoft and Amazon directly respond to some of the data sharing and collaboration challenges Biden relayed to President Obama on Monday. It fits perfectly into the The Cancer Moonshot Task Force's strategic goal to "unleash the power of data."

Microsoft had already been working on this issue. Last month, Microsoft announced it is trying to "solve" cancer with computers, and Tuesday the company announced it has made genomic sequencing tools seven times faster for doctors fighting cancer.

Microsoft and Amazon are not the only Puget Sound area companies responding to Biden's call to action.

This summer, Biden also highlighted work being done at Renton-based Providence Health & Services. The health system opened the Oncology Precision Network in June in response to Biden's call to action. The network brings together cancer genomics data and physicians across 11 states, 79 hospitals and 800 clinics in an effort to share and leverage previously untapped, real-world cancer data.

Monday the Cancer Moonshot Task Force also announced a pilot program for financial guidance and assistance for cancer patients that will kick off at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.