Informatics Plays a Central Role in the Quest for a Cure

Health informatics is one of the most important disciplines contributing to the future of cancer prevention and treatment. Cancer research hinges on the collection and analysis of data regarding the outcomes of various protocols. The science being conducted at cancer center laboratories around the globe can only be validated with complex data points that support the success of experimental theories and subsequent clinical trials.

National Cancer Informatics Program

Informatics is so integral to the understanding of cancer that the National Cancer Institute, under the National Institutes of Health, has developed the National Cancer Informatics Program (NCIP) to support research initiatives. This program brings together scientists, informaticists, and technologists in a mission to improve how data-driven knowledge is translated into patient care.

The goal of the NCIP is to create an open community that will reinforce cooperative relationships throughout the research process. This includes skilled informaticists who understand how to work with disparate information systems to collect and disseminate knowledge in ways that can accelerate discovery.

To help facilitate innovation and scientific collaboration within the NCIP, the National Cancer Institute is leveraging several technology solutions to promote the development of cancer informatics software, improve access to genomic data, and support the changing needs of informaticists.

IBM Watson Group

The world first came to know the supercomputer named Watson as a contender on the game show Jeopardy. Since then, Watson has become involved in much more serious activity, working in collaboration with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the New York Genome Project.

At Memorial Sloan-Kettering, IBM is leveraging Watson’s capabilities to store cancer-specific data collections that can be analyzed and extrapolated against in order to determine the probability of outcomes from a particular treatment protocol. The New York Genome Project takes this a step further, with a goal of using informatics to help oncologists provide personalized treatment based on genetic markers and mutations.

This initiative will deploy a cloud-based Watson system to help examine genome sequencing data from multiple sources and identify patterns that can deliver on the promise of personalized cancer care based on each patient’s genetic structure.

These are just two examples of how health informatics is fundamental to ultimately finding a cure for various types of cancer. You can learn more about how informaticists are making a difference when you visit the University of Illinois at Chicago online at

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