DBHi faculty member Dr. Adam Resnick's Cavatica platform profiled in November's Bench to Bedside

When describing his latest effort to make breakthroughs for children with cancer, Adam Resnick, PhD, places it in the context of history. In their origins, science and medicine were once entirely separate disciplines, he notes. Science, an erudite pursuit to unlock the universal truths of the natural world, rarely concerned itself with concerns of human flesh. Medicine, meanwhile, was more personal — a direct relationship between a patient and a healing hand. Dr. Resnick was joined by David Lacks, grandson of Henrietta Lacks.

“Data and patients are the organizing principle of how we do what we do,” said Dr. Resnick, who is the director of translational research in division of Neurosurgery and co-directs Center for Data-Driven Discovery in Biomedicine (D3b) with Phillip “Jay” Storm, MD, chief of the division of Neurosurgery at CHOP and associate professor of Neurosurgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The astounding glut of data created in the course of trying to solve serious diseases may itself be one of the most dominant challenges in the 21st century. Analyzing patients’ biological samples with newer sequencing tools results in huge amounts of data about genes and genomes, RNAs, and proteins. Making sense of that sequencing data requires a huge amount of computational power. At the same time, organizational structures divide how clinical and research data can be shared and used to gain collaborative insights. Many pediatric diseases, including childhood cancers, are so rare that no one hospital or healthcare network can amass enough samples or data to gain meaningful insights into the molecular drivers of these diseases. These challenges drove the creation of multi-institutional research and clinical trial consortia such as the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC), and the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC), in both of which Dr. Resnick serves as the scientific chair. The D3b center at CHOP was established in December 2015 to build on the work of these consortia and break down silos that keep data separate and further empower the development of a data-driven ecosystem on behalf of CHOP’s diverse patient population.

One of this group’s first major initiatives is the launch of its open-access pediatric genomic data cloud, CAVATICA, announced in October 2016 as a private commitment in conjunction with the national Cancer Moonshot.

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