NASA Center, National Cancer Institute Renew Big Data Partnership

The NCI-supported Early Detection Research Network (EDRN) is a consortium of biomedical investigators who share data on cancer biomarkers, with the goal of pooling their research data into a single searchable network and facilitate techniques for early diagnosis of cancer or cancer risk.

One of NASA's centers, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, on Sept. 6 renewed a research partnership with the National Cancer Institute through 2021. For the past 15 years, their partnership involves the development of data science that originated in space exploration and now supports new cancer discoveries.

The institute is one of the National Institutes of Health.

The NCI-supported Early Detection Research Network (EDRN) is a consortium of biomedical investigators who share data on cancer biomarkers, with the goal of pooling their research data into a single searchable network and facilitate techniques for early diagnosis of cancer or cancer risk. So far, the efforts have brought about the discovery of six new FDA-approved cancer biomarkers and nine biomarkers approved for use in Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments labs; the FDA has approved each of these biomarkers for use in cancer research and diagnosis, and they have been used in more than 1 million patient diagnostic tests worldwide, NASA reported.

"After the founding of EDRN in 2000, the network needed expertise to take data from multiple studies on cancer biomarkers and create a single, searchable network of research findings for scientists," said Sudhir Srivastava, chief of NCI's Cancer Biomarkers Research Group and head of EDRN. Dan Crichton, head of JPL's Center for Data Science and Technology (a joint initiative with Caltech in Pasadena, Calif.) helped to establish a JPL-based informatics center dedicated to supporting EDRN's big data initiatives.

"From a NASA standpoint, there are significant opportunities to develop new data science capabilities that can support both the mission of exploring space and cancer research using common methodological approaches," Crichton explained in the NASA news release. "We have a great opportunity to perfect those techniques and grow JPL's data science technologies while serving our nation."

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