The Biomedical Informatics Grid

Exciting stuff!

Infrastructure For A Learning Health Care System: CaBIG

In his proposal for a new cancer care policy in a data-rich future (Jan/Feb 09), Lynn Etheredge correctly notes that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has built the requisite infrastructure for a learning health care system. Currently, the Cancer Biomedica lInformatics Grid (CaBIG) is connecting in a national networknot only sixty-plus NCI-designated Cancer Centers, but also NCI community cancer centers, where 85 percent of all cancer patients are treated. Moreover, CaBIG enables the seamless continuum that is at the heart of a learning health care system in which knowledge ofaggregated clinical outcomes drives next-generation research discoveries, which in turn are validated at the bedside for improved clinical outcomes, in a seamless “virtuous cycle.” In addition, CaBIG and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have collaborated for electronic coordination of clinical research information. CaBIG has also demonstrated its capacity to exchange information with the emerging Nationwide Health Information Network.

While these efforts to date have been focused on cancer, the NCI is in effect prototyping a twenty-first-century knowledge-based biomedical system. The “BIG” (Biomedical Informatics Grid) inCaBIG serves as a nationwide, interoperable, interconnected information technology platform that enables information sharing. A health care ecosystem then formsfor the first time everthat electronically links academic centers, caredelivery organizations, insurers, diagnostic and pharmaceutical product innovators, government research and care institutions, and all other players in the biomedical enterprise. As data are shared among those previously siloed entities, reunification occurs between the currently divided worlds of clinical care and research. Specifically, the availability of clinical encounter and molecular characterization information permits prequalification of participants and rapid assembly of study populations; research can be conducted without reestablishing duplicative tools andinfrastructure; redundancy of research activities is eliminated; real-time monitoring of safety occurs; and the development of new therapeutic inventions can be conducted faster and less expensively with near-term benefit to patients.

This prototype is already under way. We invite all sectors to participate ( to carry Etheredges bold concept even farther.

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15 years ago

I read this as the 7.30 Report warned of nanotechnology research showing the dangers of some zinc containing sun screens for metal ion absorption through the skin. One step forward, one step back. Excitement qualified.

15 years ago

To the tune of “Mrs Robinson”.

“I want to say one word to you. Just one word.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Are you listening? ”
“Yes, I am.