To help speed further findings, St. Jude is sharing the information gleaned from the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project with researchers worldwide. In June of 2012, the hospital announced it was making all of its raw sequence data available—the largest-ever release of such data for free access by the global scientific community. This action more than doubled the volume of comprehensive whole genome information available from all human genome sources combined.
“Setting this precedent reflects a commitment to freely sharing information that has been a hallmark of St. Jude since we opened our doors 50 years ago,” says Dr. William E. Evans, St. Jude director and CEO. “The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project is a one-of-a-kind effort, so the information has the potential to accelerate disease research worldwide.”
Researchers internationally have already requested the raw data, which is made available at no charge. Because accessing and downloading the enormous file sets requires significant sophistication and equipment, these requests tend to be from genomics experts. However, St. Jude has also developed a way to enable a wide range of researchers to access the findings. An online tool titled Explore makes much of the information accessible in a highly visual way. It enables researchers to more easily search for information of interest and drill down to greater levels of detail.
“Explore allows researchers to access the genome project’s unique, published data specific to pediatric cancers and to make discoveries of their own,” says James Downing, MD, the hospital’s deputy director, scientific director and site leader of the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project.