At City of Hope, POSEIDON was developed to manage its vast data ocean — an informatics platform fed by so many streams of data, it has created a deep, diverse ecosystem supporting the dynamic precision medicine program at one of the country’s top comprehensive cancer centers.
In a recent fireside chat with our Chief Revenue Officer Mark Swendsen, City of Hope Senior Vice President and Chief Informatics Officer Sorena Nadaf dove in with details of the massive informatics challenge, and described why the California cancer center selected DNAnexus as its partner for the project.
A wide pool of patient information
From real-world data to real-world evidence to real-world action, City of Hope’s vision for its precision oncology program is one of full integration between research and clinical care, pooling a wide variety of data from multiple sources, to be accessed by bioinformaticians and physicians alike.
Tens of thousands of patients go through the doors of the main City of Hope Duarte campus located outside Los Angeles and its 31 clinical network locations throughout Southern California each year, and each cancer patient has their tumors genetically sequenced to aid with therapeutic options. In addition, the new system will integrate other data affiliated with the patient journey, from disease registries to pathologies, molecular characterization of the tumor, medical record data, and clinical trials information.
Among the requirements of the new platform:
SCALE: “It needed to scale because we were bursting at the seams across our own internal network.”
COLLABORATION: “Building a network was also critical for us. We needed a way to not stay siloed in our ideas. In academic matrix institutions, we collaborate deeply, across disease programs.”
EASE OF USE: “We needed to make it useful for bioinformaticians who are very technical, but we also needed it easy for oncologists who just wanted a dashboard to look at analytics really quickly, or to be able to browse across various data sets that are specific to their disease.”
SECURITY: “Data governance and security is a big part of this. It needs to be well managed across a matrix organization.”
Nadaf and his colleagues spent several months scoping out their precision oncology platform project and quickly realized they couldn’t do it alone.
“You can’t build it yourself anymore,” Nadaf said. “The time has come and gone where you can throw everything into an Excel spreadsheet or a REDCap database, or buy an infrastructure that’s already built and try to squeeze everything into it.”
“We really needed an environment that was fine-tuned and revolved around our workflow. And we needed the right experts to help us strategize. Once we ingest all this data, how do we provide this as a solution, primarily for City of Hope, but also our growing network across the landscape of precision medicine institutions?”
Nadaf said he was familiar with DNAnexus thanks to previous work together via the Cancer Informatics for Cancer Centers (Ci4CC).
“It’s been a really good symbiotic relationship for us,” Nadaf said. “I think this partnership is extremely unique and I really do believe that we are onto something very, very special.”
Enabling super science and patient care
The platform is not just a status repository of data, Nadaf said. It’s been an “enabler.” It’s helped inform City of Hope’s unique in-house drug development. It’s helped place patients into clinical trials. It’s been a huge help for tumor boards, where clinicians, researchers, and technical curators come together to make decisions on tricky cases. And it has led to new research ideas, new methods, and new translational projects.
It has already proved its value in savings in time and energy.
“I think it’s helped us really catapult our initiative a few years, to say the least,” Nadaf said.
It’s also changed expectations, and opened up new possibilities.
“It’s no longer a question of can we do this? It’s a matter of, this is exactly what we need, let’s find how to expand our platform to support it.”