A Conversation with Dr. Ken Buetow
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Dr. Ken Buetow is program director of NCI's Center for Bioinformatics.
What have been the important accomplishments of caBIG during its first year?
So far, 50 NCI-designated Cancer Centers and dozens of other organizations in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors are contributing to the caBIG development effort. This team has begun producing discrete caBIG component tools, which are being developed in an integrated and fully interoperable way - all based on a common language or standard. In creating these tools, caBIG's developers are breaking important new ground to address critical issues related to data sharing, including privacy and security of patient information and intellectual property.
What bioinformatic tools have been created so far and how are they intended to be used?
caBIG is delivering cancer and biomedical research products now - including software tools, databases, prototypes, infrastructure, standards, white papers, and development models. In its first year, caBIG launched more than 75 individual projects including the first iteration of the caBIG Compatibility Guidelines and end-to-end solutions like caARRAY and GenePattern (that provide microarray tools at both ends of the process), or Cytoscape and caWorkbench (that provide analysis capabilities for molecular pathways). Many other products are coming online, including clinical trials solutions, tissue bank and pathology tools, and integrative cancer research applications and datasets.
What are some of the datasets and databases made available by caBIG?
One example is the Gene Expression Data Portal (GEDP), an ongoing effort to provide database support and access to microarray data, which also includes evaluating and developing microarray analysis tools and industry standards. Similarly, the cancer Model Organisms Database (caMOD) allows researchers to submit and retrieve animal models of cancer. caMOD interfaces with caIMAGE, the cancer image repository containing human and mouse pathological images.
How can organizations and individuals become involved in caBIG?
Ultimately, the evolution of the caBIG network should be accompanied by the growth of a self-sustaining caBIG community. caBIG started with NCI-designated Cancer Centers and is now reaching out to NCI's SPOREs, which promote interdisciplinary research among the basic and clinical sciences, and NCI's Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Program, which involves researchers, cancer centers, and community physicians, and other NCI programs. caBIG is also exploring ways to engage the broader cancer community. Discussions about potential partnerships between caBIG and other NIH components, other federal agencies, and international initiatives are also taking place. All of these groups share a common commitment to the importance of open and shared biomedical informatics tools, standards, infrastructure, and data. Interested individuals should go to the caBIG Web site (http://cabig.nci.nih.gov) for the latest updates on new tools, meetings, and other program information.