News Release: Research

Sep. 30,  2009

Emory Selected as "In Silico Research Center of Excellence"

In Silico Brain Tumor Research Center will use advanced informatics tools and databases to discover more effective brain tumor treatments

Emory University, through its Center for Comprehensive Informatics, has been selected by SAIC-Frederick, Inc. as one of five "In Silico Research Centers of Excellence" in support of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology. The Emory award for the In Silico Brain Tumor Research Center (ISBTRC) is approximately $743,000 for the first 12-months, with two 12-month option periods that if executed amount to an additional $1,465,340 for a total of approximately $2.2 million over three years.

The Center will be led by Joel H. Saltz, MD, PhD, director of the Emory Center for Comprehensive Informatics and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. Daniel J. Brat, MD, PhD, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, will serve as scientific principal investigator. The goal of the program is to empower "in silico" research, in which the rich data sets currently available to the cancer community are analyzed to produce novel discoveries leading to more effective cancer treatments.

The ISBTRC will be an integrated effort of four institutions dedicated to exploring innovative ideas in brain tumor translational research: Emory University Woodruff Health Sciences Center, Henry Ford Hospital, Stanford University Center for Biomedical Oncology and Thomas Jefferson University.

The Center will focus on discovery through a series of hypothesis-driven research projects using data analysis, aggregation and data mining within the NCI's Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG®) and other publicly available data sources. The Center's integrative in silico experiments will leverage complementary molecular, pathology and radiology brain tumor data obtained in the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), Rembrandt and Vasari studies. The recent availability of these rich molecular data sets and their links with digitized pathology slides, annotated neuroimaging studies and clinical outcomes, allow human brain tumor investigations on a larger scale and with greater depth than previously possible.

"We are convinced that coordinated use of complementary experimental platforms and data sources will soon play a crucial role in our ability to effectively treat brain tumors," says Saltz. "Our in silico center's effort will play a key role in developing the methodologies needed to leverage and exploit complementary data sources. We aim for our research center to have a substantial impact both on brain tumor research and in demonstrating the effectiveness of caBIG® and caGrid technologies in carrying out deep integrative research."

Results of the Center's work, including new datasets, results of analysis and new analytical methods will be made publicly available to the international research community as caBIG® compatible research resources and products.

The Emory Center for Comprehensive Informatics implements a broad research and development agenda in biomedical informatics, translational research informatics, grid computing, high performance computing and imaging informatics. The Center develops open source, innovative software systems, tools and applications through synthesis of advanced computer science in high performance and grid computing, biomedical informatics and translational research informatics.

Over the next few years, the Center's principal biomedical informatics research objective will be to develop principles, techniques and tools that can be used by biomedical researchers to assemble a coherent biomedical picture by integrating information from multiple complementary data sources. Its approach is to develop knowledge and data management middleware so that investigators can explore different ways of synthesizing information from multiple disparate data sources, allowing researchers to generate and test biologically meaningful hypotheses.

For more information about the Center for Comprehensive Informatics, see


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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