The UF Health Cancer Center has a newly formed shared resource available for UF Health investigators. The Cancer Informatics Shared Resource (CISR) provides a centralized resource of expertise and infrastructure in the informatics aspects of biomedical, translational and population cancer research that enhances scientific interaction and research productivity.
“I think data is the most important thing in any scientific field, so making data available and creating common data infrastructure and standards is the biggest contribution and mission of CISR,” said Jiang Bian, Ph.D., CISR director.
CISR is a critical resource for Cancer Center members to navigate the complex data and informatics resources, including internal and external data sources, as well as data management, processing, analytics and informatics tools and methods.
“Our current primary goal is to help other investigators with data management and using different datasets together,” Bian said. “We want to establish a common data infrastructure and make different kinds of data available to our members. We also want to provide a common platform where researchers can contribute data.”
CISR was formed by piecing together three different services offered by the Cancer Center — the cancer enterprise data warehouse, cancer surveillance and digital health.
“One of the great aspects of UF and UF Health is an emphasis on the compilation and analysis of large data sets,” said Jonathan Licht, M.D., director of the UF Health Cancer Center. “The UFHCC aims to take advantage of this talent in forming resources like CISR to facilitate advances in population-based cancer research and enhanced engagement with the community.”
The goal of the enterprise data warehouse, led by Bian, is to link cancer investigators to the diverse data, methods and domain expertise on campus. It features a dashboard of trials, recruitments and demographics and is growing to include other data. The CISR team plans to establish a large database that incorporates cancer patients’ data from several sources into one large enterprise data warehouse.
“The primary goal of CISR is to provide service and serve as a resource,” said Yi Guo, Ph.D., technical director of CISR and assistant professor in the UF College of Medicine’s department of health outcomes and biomedical informatics. “Another goal is to support research projects.”
The cancer surveillance group, led by Guo, helps researchers to identify research objectives and hypotheses and formalize ideas in terms of data. Cancer surveillance is the collection and analysis of information and data on new cancer cases, screening tests, treatment, survival and deaths.
“One of the goals of the cancer center is to better understand our catchment area,” Guo said. “We use the Florida Cancer Data System, legislatively mandated, population-based, statewide cancer registry, to identify all cancer patients within our catchment area and we compare that to cancer patients that come to us.”
Dejana Braithwaite, Ph.D., associate director of population sciences, said CISR is a great opportunity for the Cancer Center to acquire cancer-related demographic and socioeconomic data across the catchment area.
“Bringing together increasing amounts and types of data will uncover new insights that promote precision approaches to cancer control and drive impact on the patients and communities that we serve,” Braithwaite said.
CISR collects data from different data sources to understand the UFHCC catchment area and provide research insights to cancer researchers.
“The two big parts of the cancer center are patient care and research. We need to better understand our cancer patients within the catchment area so that we can better serve them,” Guo said. “We need to identify top cancers, our strengths and weakness in terms of care and research, so that we can better service our community.”
To better serve the community, CISR is working with the UFHCC Community Outreach, Engagement and Equity office to develop a dashboard for the catchment area.
“We are putting together data from different sources into a single dashboard for display so that investigators can actually explore different populations and identify health disparities in the catchment area,” Guo said.
Since its establishment in 2018, CISR has been successful in terms of service metrics and research productivity. The shared resource has served more than 35 UFHCC members, produced more than 40 related publications and received four NCI-funded grants and 13 other cancer-relevant grants.
“CISR has access to multiple different data sources, and we can help investigators access those data sources,” Guo said.
CISR has access to:
For more information about the Cancer Informatics Shared Resource, please visit their website.