The inaugural Big Data Big Impact award has been presented to Dr Jason Wong, Dr Luke Hesson and Intersect’s Dr Joe Thurbon at the 2013 Premier's Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research by NSW Chief Scientist Professor Mary O'Kane and Emeritus Professor Mark Wainwright AM FTSE.
The successful team from UNSW and Intersect will work on a project entitled 'Exploring the Dark Matter of Cancer Genomes'. Co-funded by the Cancer Institute NSW, the NSW Office of the Chief Scientist, the Office of Health and Medical Research and Dimension Data, the grant will support the analysis of publicly available datasets to unlock answers to frontier questions in cancer research.
Led by Dr Jason Wong, this project will explore 98 per cent of the human genome known as 'dark matter'. This non-coding part of the genome has not been thoroughly explored by scientists in the past. The team aims to identify mutations that occur in the 'dark matter' that may play a role in driving cancer using existing, publicly available data. The identification of these mutations could immediately provide new ways to study cancer, which could result in new diagnostic tools and therapies.
The team will delve into over 1,000 publicly available genome-wide datasets to explore the hypothesis that in fact mutations in the dark matter of the human genome is a frequent event that can lead to cancer, then validate and examine the extent these mutations are present across a large number of independent clinical samples.
As a partner on the grant Intersect will provide a data analysis pipeline, HPC facilities, research data storage, a mirror of the Cancer Genome Atlas, and the services of an HPC specialist and CI Dr Joe Thurbon.