Genomic data offer valuable insights that can be used to help find treatments and cures for disease. Precision medicine, defined by the NIH as “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person,” is gaining acceptance among physicians, who are beginning to integrate patient-centric data analysis into clinical decision-making. Although precision medicine makes use of various types of data, this piece focuses on molecular characterization data specifically, as the discoveries yielded from these data can advance thinking around clinical care for cancer patients. Our pediatrics genomics team at the University of California Santa Cruz Genomics Institute is uniquely situated to discuss the use of shared genomic data for clinical benefit because our collaborations with hospital partners in the United States and internationally rely on big-data comparative genomic analysis. Using shared data, Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative develops methods for comparative analysis of tumor RNA sequencing profiles from single patients for the purposes of identifying over-expressed oncogenes that could be targeted by therapies in the clinic.
The authors thank the Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative team at UC Santa Cruz: Lauren Sanders, Jacob Pfeil, Allison Cheney, Holly Beale, Geoff Lyle, Katrina Learned, Anouk van den Bout, Ellen Kephart, Rob Currie, and Sofie R. Salama.