• Research

    Meeting the Genomic Data Challenge: New Collaboration Speeds Precision Medicine Discovery

body in front of data-WPEach of us has a unique genetic makeup of more than three billion molecules that are the building blocks for our DNA. These building blocks create the blueprint for everything from our eye color to how our body functions, how we process medications and how likely we are to contract disease. Because of today’s DNA sequencing technology, we can see our genetic blue print in a way that gives us a new window into our own health.

However, these new capabilities also come with challenges. Managing the vast amounts of data that comes with sequencing billions of molecules in our bodies requires high speed computers with massive storage space. In addition, this genomic data needs to be combined with other clinical and biological data and then analyzed and interpreted in order to understand what genetic differences impact our health or our likelihood of developing disease. These tasks require complex computer models and systems.

Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine is collaborating with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) to create the Center for Computational Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine (CCBGM) to develop new computer systems that will generate, interpret and apply genomic data to develop improved diagnostic tests and treatments for patients. This unique collaboration brings together Mayo Clinic’s expertise in genetics, genomics, clinical care and individualized medicine with UIUC’s data management and computational technology expertise to achieve breakthroughs in precision medicine.

Dr. Liewei Wang
Dr. Liewei Wang

“Incorporating these latest technologies in the era of big data in medicine and biology will help physicians and scientists at Mayo, along with the broader medical community, improve patient care and health-care delivery, and be part of the innovation,” says Liewei Wang, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Mayo Clinic, co-principal investigator and the Mayo site lead for CCBGM.

The center is funded for five years through the National Science Foundation’s Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC) program. Industry partners will play a large role in the center. Currently, CCBGM has nine member companies that will help select the center’s projects and steer its course.

CCBGM aims to develop cost-effective computer hardware and software that will:

  • Quickly analyze an individual patient’s genetic data to provide accurate, “real-time” information on medical conditions.
  • Analyze and interpret complex genomic, biological and clinical data in order to understand how genomic differences can be used to develop individualized therapies for patients with cancer and many other diseases.
  • Create secure data storage systems to manage the rapidly growing amount of available genomic information to ensure its availability for ongoing individualized medicine research and discovery.
Dr. Ravi Iyer

“The big picture goal is to apply computational genomics across the life sciences industry, but currently it’s challenged by our inability to generate, interpret and apply genomic data quickly, efficiently, and accurately,” says Ravi Iyer, Ph.D., principal investigator and the George and Ann Fisher Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Illinois. “The amount of data is increasing at such a rapid rate that our ability to apply computing to a wide range of genomic problems is still very limited.”

This research is part of a strong strategic alliance between Mayo Clinic and UIUC, which includes a $9.34 million, four-year Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) grant funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The Mayo-Illinois Alliance for Technology-Based Healthcare was established in 2010 by Mayo Clinic and the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign to promote a broad spectrum of collaborative research, the development of new technologies and clinical tools and the design and implementation of novel education programs, especially in high-performance computing, software, imaging, nanotechnology, genomics and tissue engineering.

Learn more about ongoing efforts to improve genomic data analysis

Join us to learn more about precision medicine

Hear experts discuss the latest research in precision medicine and how it can be applied to improve treatments for many conditions at Individualizing Medicine 2016: Advancing Care Through Genomics. The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, is hosting the fifth annual genomics conference, October 5–6, in Rochester, Minn.

The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine is hosting the conference with support from the Satter Foundation.