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NCI to Fund Efforts to Address Cancer Research Informatics Challenges

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Cancer Institute wants to fuel the development of new informatics tools for use in cancer research and has released several new funding opportunities to support projects involving early-stage and more advanced development efforts, the institute said on Friday.

Two of the new grants will fund projects to develop informatics tools that can improve the acquisition, management, analysis, and dissemination of data in cancer research. Three other grant programs will provide funding to revision applications from projects that are currently funded by NCI, and which are not in their last year of funding, that aim to develop new informatics tools.

Funded under NCI's Informatics Technology for Cancer Research Initiative, the technologies developed through these projects will accelerate research into cancer biology, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, as well as epidemiology and cancer-related health disparities.

These proposals will be expected to clearly show how they address demonstrable needs and how they will benefit the cancer research community, and they will include mechanisms that solicit feedback from users and collaborators throughout the development process.

"Over the last decade, major advances in biology coupled with innovations in information technology led to an explosive growth of biological and biomedical information," NCI explained in the funding announcement. While these informatics innovations offer unprecedented opportunities, they also present researchers with significant challenges in accessing and analyzing the massive amounts of data they are generating, said NCI.

"These challenges are even more prominent in the field of cancer research where complexity and heterogeneity of the disease translate to complex data generation conditions and high data management and analysis overhead, a condition that creates significant barriers to knowledge discovery and dissemination," NCI said.

There also are many challenges to the acceptance and adoption of information technologies in everyday research, such as issues related to user-friendliness, and data sharing, integration, and standardization.

NCI wants investigators to use this funding to develop tools that can address these challenges.

These projects may develop a range of tools and technologies, such as tools for automation in experiment design and execution; data collection; data processing and analysis; quality assessment; data integration and visualization; text mining and natural language processing; software interoperability and compatibility; computational tools for translational, epidemiological, and clinical applications; and computer-assisted interpretation of experimental results, among others.

The Early-Stage Development of Informatics Technology grants program will provide up to $250,000 over three years.

The Advanced Development of Informatics Technology grants will award up to $500,000 over five years.

The Revisions for Early-Stage Information Technology awards will provide up to $150,000 over two years through three types of awards, including UO1 Research Project/Cooperative Agreement grants, RO1 Research Project grants, and PO1 Research Program Project grants.

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