Issue 25 - Jun 24, 2016
  • Stanford, Intermountain and Providence Use Syapse Platform to Integrate Their Data

    Three health systems—Stanford Cancer Institute, Intermountain Healthcare and Providence Health and Services—have agreed to eliminate the electronic barriers between their medical records, tumor registries and genomics databases.

    The three entities said they have started to use a common IT platform to achieve interoperability and guide clinical decision-making.

    That platform is Syapse, a startup that is emerging as an important player in the ongoing conversation on bioinformatics and data sharing in oncology, led by Vice President Joe Biden and the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

    • Related Coverage of the Cancer Moonshot

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Hirsch: I Dropped Out of Stanford to Start Syapse

    Jonathan Hirsch was studying neuroscience at Stanford University when he wandered into two oncology classes and saw an opportunity to change the way health systems handle genomic data.

    “I started getting really immersed in molecular oncology, and the challenges in implementing molecularly guided treatment started coming together with the challenges in utilizing complex data,” Hirsch said to The Cancer Letter.

  • Joint BSA-NCAB Meeting

    The Moonshot’s Metric for Success: Avoiding a Single, Tangible Endpoint

    How will the success of the moonshot be measured? NCI Acting Director Doug Lowy touched on the subject during the joint meeting of the institute’s Board of Scientific Advisors and the National Cancer Advisory Board June 21.

    The moonshots of the 1960s were essentially engineering problems that had tangible goals. Cancer is an evolutionary problem, and the stated goal of the moonshot in cancer research, led by Vice President Joe Biden, is perhaps deliberately vague: to achieve a decade’s worth of progress in just five years.

    “Has there been any discussion of an endpoint that you can point to—like planting the flag on the moon, or sequencing the three-billionth base pair of the genome project?” asked BSA member Lincoln Stein, director of the Informatics and BioComputing Platform at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, during the meeting. “Something that looks like an achievable endpoint?”

  • Funding Opportunity

    SU2C, Merck Taking Proposals for Keytruda

    Stand Up To Cancer announced a request for proposals under SU2C Catalyst, a program supporting clinical trials and translational research.

  • In Brief

    • NCI Surgery Branch resumes enrollment in immunotherapy trials
    • Rajesh Garg named president and CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America
    • Prostate Cancer Foundation names 24 Young Investigator Award winners
    • Shuanzeng “Sam” Wei and Phillip Pancari join Fox Chase
    • MIT’s Tyler Jacks, Susan Hockfield, and Phillip Sharp publish report on convergence
    • Pancreatic Cancer Action Network lobbies Congress for research funding
    • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the American Society of Hematology to collaborate on promoting AML treatment research
Issue 24 - Jun 17, 2016
  • Moonshot May Play Role in $400 Million Annual Contract to Run NCI’s Frederick Lab

    The contract for operations and technical support at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research could be accepting proposals as early as next month—but NCI advisors said they are hoping to slow the recompetition process to reform the laboratory’s mission.

    Moreover, NCI should consider how the laboratory could contribute to Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, members of the Frederick National Laboratory Advisory Committee said at a recent meeting.

  • Task Force Adds Tests to Colon Screening Guideline

    The final version of guidelines for colorectal cancer screening by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force differ substantively from the group’s draft version published last October.

    The final version—unlike the draft—lists CT colonography and FIT-DNA as screening methods that are equal to others.

    It’s unclear whether political pressure had any role in prompting the panel to broaden its list of detection strategies from three to seven in the past six months.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Guideline Edits Rooted in Science, Former USPSTF Member Says

    “I don’t see this recommendation as differing in any substantial way from some others that we’ve made, where we suggested that patients talk with their clinicians, and the important messages here is that colorectal cancer screening works, that colorectal cancer screening reduces deaths from colorectal cancer,” said Douglas Owens, a who has rotated off the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, and was involved in developing the colorectal cancer screening guideline published earlier this week.

  • In Brief

    • President Obama names six appointees to the NCAB
    • Stand Up to Cancer to host fifth-biennial televised fundraiser
    • Kety Duron joins City of Hope as chief human resources officer
    • Miami Cancer Institute takes delivery of 220-ton proton therapy cyclotron
    • Takeda and M2Gen to collaborate on ORIEN genomic data
    • Mayo Clinic and Kiyatec to collaborate on ovarian cancer care
    • St. Jude receives pathology accreditation through College of American Pathologists
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Canadian review agency delivers positive opinion for Opdivo in NSCLC
    • Genomic Health launches Oncotype SEQ Liquid Select biopsy test
20160610 - Jun 10, 2016
ISSUE 23 – June 10, 2016PDF



Biden Designates NCI’s Genomic Data Commons as Foundation of Moonshot 

CHICAGO—Vice President Joe Biden June 6 announced the NCI Genomic Data Commons as part of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

The GDC, a $20 million portal that consolidates NCI’s diverse datasets, contains genomic sequences and analyses of tumors, as well as clinical data on enrollment and treatment.

Biden’s announcement—made hours before his address at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology—establishes NCI as the leader in a high-stakes debate over who gets to set standards for how health records data should be aggregated and organized.

• Related Coverage of the Cancer Moonshot

ASCO 2016

Biden: “I’d Like to Issue A Challenge to You”

Vice President Joe Biden challenged individual organizations and leading initiatives in oncology bioinformatics to interoperate and share data.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, Biden announced the NCI’s Genomic Data Commons as part of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, and urged others to collaborate with NCI.

Cancer Groups, Congress Push for
Dedicated Cancer Center at FDA

The FDA Oncology Center of Excellence—first proposed in the National Moonshot Cancer Initiative—is gaining support from oncology groups as well as in both chambers of Congress.

Earlier this week, 28 oncology professional societies and advocacy organizations sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, describing the organizational structure they’d like to see in the proposed center.

Capitol Hill

Senate Appropriators Propose $2 Billion
Increase for NIH

The Senate Committee on Appropriations marked up a bipartisan spending bill June 9 that gives NIH a $2 billion increase in the 2017 fiscal year.

NCI is to receive a $216 million increase over FY 2016.

Passed on a 29-1 vote, the measure boosts the NIH budget to $34 billion and now moves to consideration by full Senate. Funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will remain flat.

ASCO 2016

Vose: “Are We Ready To Care For These Patients?

Julie Vose, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, addressed the opening session of the society’s annual meeting in Chicago, discussing the themes of her year in office, the coming changes in federal cancer research and Medicare reimbursement, and the progress made over the society’s past 52 years.

Safety Bills on Morcellators,
Essure Introduced in House

Two House measures introduced earlier this week aim to strengthen federal requirements for reporting adverse outcomes caused by medical devices and to increase access to legal recourse for patients harmed by Class III high-risk devices.

• Related Coverage of Power Morcellation

In Brief
  • Former NCI Director Samuel Broder to retire from Intrexon Corp.
  • Yoshinori Ohsumi wins Janssen research prize from Johnson & Johnson

  • Five Pew-Stewart cancer research scholars announced

  • Susan G. Komen names 16 new Komen Scholars

  • American Hospital Dubai joins Mayo Clinic Care Network

  • University of Kentucky joins TriNetX

  • Roswell Park forms for-profit biotechnology company

  • CDC publishes Youth Risk Behavior Survey showing historic low smoking rates