On Monday Vice President Biden announced the release of an open-access data commons in support of the Cancer Moonshot. Called the Genomic Data Commons (GDC), and hosted at the National Cancer Institute, this data commons makes available standardized raw genomic and clinical data for over 12,000 patients. While the GDC will have utility for many different areas of research (including the Precision Medicine Initiative), the linkage to the Cancer Moonshot is meaningful in part due to the limited time the Vice President has to make it easier for cancer researchers to make advances in the field.
Having this much raw data available in one database is helpful because it will be easier to analyze the data for each new tool and method developed in the fight against cancer and in the further exploration of the human genome. As explained in this video, the single commons effectively allows many more researchers access to the increasing amounts of data being generated. It’s a means of increasing the human processing power available for these diseases.
Data submitted to these commons will have to be obtained through proper consent procedures and be properly managed and controlled in order to preserve patient privacy and confidentiality (too bad the new Common Rule regulations are not quite ready). But hopefully good data management and increased research output from commons like this can encourage the development of similar tools for progress in other diseases.