Children’s Cancer Institute turns to data analytics in quest for a cure

Reporting vital to the success of the new 'Zero Childhood Cancer' programme

By Byron Connolly
Aug. 16, 2016

Neeson said the institute has used the popular Raiser's Edge fundraising system for reporting but this software doesn't have the predictive analytics capabilities that are provided by the Yellowfin software.

"We are trying to get down the nitty gritty of what makes a fundraising campaign successful. What are the drivers that make a campaign successful? What are the triggers that mean it is going to fail?" said Neeson.

"Our biggest insights would be on KPIs [key performance indicators] for campaigns - we input and measure against them. If they start a new campaign, we can see in real time where donations are at, how much people are fundraising at any point in time, and also who is lagging so we can market our communications to generate more interest," she said.

Meanwhile, genomic data analysis is completed on a much larger scale by two bioinformaticians using open source applications that run on high performance computers at the institute. The institute also uses bioinformatics capabilities provided by Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and the Garvin Institute of Medical Research in Sydney.

"We are also accessing the NECTA Cloud and slowly moving into accessing the Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services research clouds as well. Every patient generates about 1.5TB of data per consultation. If they relapse, that's another 1.5TB so by 2020, I am looking at well over 1PB of data," Neeson said.

Future plans

In 2018, the Institute will feed data from its partners and other collaborators across the country and overseas into its data warehouse and use the Yellowfin software to complete reports for the Zero Childhood Cancer program. Researchers will make clinical decisions based on this information.

"We have a drug discovery centre at the institute where [researchers] will be running tests against every individual's cancer to determine what drug could work for that patient. At the moment, treatments for childhood cancers are not tailored and many of the children are treated with adult drugs," said Neeson.

"That has lifelong effects for them. One of our clinicians often says that his ward is filled with patients suffering from the side effects of their treatment. This program will tailor specific treatments to individual tumours which we have never been able to do before because we've never had the capability to do genomic analysis as easily as we do now."

Source: CIO

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