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NCI Earmarks $8.5M for Creation of Genomic Data Analysis Centers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Cancer Institute announced that it plans to award $8.5 million in grant funding to establish a number of research centers that will work together to form the agency's Genomic Data Analysis Network.

The network is tasked with helping the cancer research community develop tools and strategies to analyze data generated from large-scale genomics projects, as well as to support the broader scientific community in investigating the results of these efforts, according to the NCI.

The funding will be provided in fiscal year 2016, which started on Oct. 1.

In support of that mission, the NCI said it will fund up to 14 multidisciplinary Genome Data Analysis Centers (GDACs) that will oversee the bioinformatic and computational systems used by agency-funded groups conducting cancer-related genomic, epigenomic, and transcriptomic research.

Specifically, the GDACs are tasked with implementing bioinformatics pipelines for high-throughput processing and integrated analyses of genome-wide data; developing new tools to capture key biological parameters; and processing and integrating analytical data from different parts of the network to generate disease-level findings and interpretations, the NCI said. Additionally, the centers will be responsible for developing pipeline and network-wide quality control methods, and facilitating communication and interactions among network members.

The NCI aims to establish three categories of GDACs, each with its own pool of funding.

The first are visualization centers, which will focus on developing and implementing bioinformatics systems to create a user interface for the exploration of genome-wide datasets, as well as creating a user interface for a "biology-centric" computational pipeline that will support advanced analyses and the potential identification of translational directions from these data, the NCI said. The agency has earmarked $2 million to fund two such centers.

The NCI has also set aside $1 million to fund one processing GDAC to handle bioinformatics systems for rapid high-throughput processing, integration, and standardization of genome-wide datasets generated by network participants and collaborators. The processing center will also play a key role in the creation of the biology-centric computational pipeline.

Lastly, the NCI intends to provide $5.5 million in funding for up to 11 specialized GDACs. These will analyze the data generated by the processing and visualization centers, and the raw data generated by agency-funded researchers and their collaborators.

To do so, the agency added, specialized centers will require expertise in at least one of the following areas: coding and non-coding mutations; mRNA analysis; copy number analysis; microRNA analysis; long, non-coding RNA analysis; batch effects; methylation analysis; pathway analysis; and protein expression analysis.

Additional information about the GDACs and funding opportunities can be found here, here, and here.