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DREAM 8 Challenges Seek Informatics Solutions for Oncology, Other Areas

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This week, the organizers of the annual Dialogue for Reverse Engineering Assessment and Methods and Sage Bionetworks announced that they will run four computational challenges this year focused on oncology, toxicology, and cell modeling.

The challenges will launch officially later this spring and submissions will be accepted until the fall. The winners will be announced at the DREAM8 conference, which will take place in early November.

Two of the four challenges in DREAM 8 call for the development of informatics solutions that will support research efforts in breast and brain cancer.

The first, dubbed the Heritage-DREAM breast cancer challenge, asks participants to use proteomics data to build network models that represent active pathways in breast cancer and also to predict how these pathways will respond to different drug treatments.

The second cancer-focused challenge, which is being done in collaboration with the National Brain Tumor Society, asks participants to predict which drugs that will elicit the strongest therapeutic response in mice transplanted with human brain tumors based on their genomic characterization.

A third challenge, done in conjunction with the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, provides genomic and toxicity data and asks for predictions about how individuals respond to common environmental and pharmaceutical chemicals; and how toxicity varies across populations.

A fourth challenge asks for predictions of the kinetic parameters of a whole-cell computational model of Mycoplasma genitalium.

Commenting on this year's challenges and the new partnership with Sage (BI 2/22/2013), Gustavo Stolovitzky, DREAM's founder, said that the "infrastructure, computational model archive and data governance systems that Sage Bionetworks has established allows the DREAM Challenges to shift in exciting new ways."

Moving forward, "we will use the solutions from some challenges to serve as seeds for subsequent challenges and for basic and clinical validation of the models that show outstanding performance," he said.

Also, "we are already planting the seeds for challenges that start with citizens and patients donating their data so that we can run challenges that answer questions that are directly relevant to their disease progression and treatment options," he added.

The partners plan to launch a second round of challenges for DREAM 8 in the fall.

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