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Hitachi Supports UCSC Cancer Sequencing with Storage System, Funding

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The University of California, Santa Cruz said today that Hitachi has sponsored a new cancer genomics research agreement with the university, under which the company will provide research funding and a data storage system that together total over $1 million in support.

Hitachi Data Systems has provided a petabyte-capacity storage system that investigators will use to store and manage cancer genomics data and to study new methods for handling these types of data, UCSC said.

The UCSC researchers plan to use the funding and storage to conduct genome sequencing and analysis for the I-SPY 2 breast cancer trial, and they will work with partners at the University of California, San Francisco on the project.

The I-SPY 2 effort is focused on cases in which women who are newly diagnosed with locally advanced breast cancer are given investigational treatments based on molecular testing. The drugs are administered before surgery so investigators can see how they impact the tumors.

UCSC said it will use the support from Hitachi to add genomic data to the biomarkers that the partners are testing, which are to be used to predict patients' response to treatments.
The sequencing, analyses, and storage efforts involve several UCSC departments, including the Genome Technology Center, the Center for Research in Storage Systems (CRSS) and the Baskin School of Engineering.

The DNA and RNA sequencing of samples from the I-SPY 2 trial will be performed by investigators at the Genome Technology Center, who will compare sequencing from tumor and normal tissues from each patient with the goal of identifying the mutations that are causing these individual cancers.

Josh Stuart, a UCSC professor of biomolecular engineering who is leading the genome analysis component of the project, has been working together with a Hitachi researcher to jointly develop a new method for identifying genomic markers of drug sensitivity.

Stuart's lab is already using the petabyte Hitachi storage system, although the I-SPY 2 analysis has yet to begin.

"We're involved in a bioinformatics competition to predict breast cancer survival using gene expression data, and we were going to be mailing hard drives around the country to share data among participating groups until Hitachi stepped up to provide the storage system," Stuart said in a statement.

Hitachi is an industry sponsor of the CRSS, which is led by Executive Director Andy Hospodor, who is overseeing the Hitachi collaboration. Hospodor said the researchers aim to find ways to "reduce the footprint, improve the processing time, and minimize the bandwidth needed to move [genomics] data from one place to another."