Canadian researchers building database to identify links between birth defects and childhood cancer

Researchers in Canada and the United States are receiving up to $14.8 million over five years to build the Kids First Data Resource Center (DRC), a centralized, cloud-based database of genetic and clinical data.

The funding was announced by the National Institute of Health Common Fund’s Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program.

According to the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), which will support the design and development of the Kids First DPR, the new database will specifically bring together data from previous cases of birth defects and childhood cancers. By making data available to researchers in North America, OICR is hoping that researchers can better understand the links between birth defects and cancer, as well as develop new solutions to prevent or slow the development of childhood cancers in patients with birth defects.

“This important initiative brings data together in a new way to support scientific breakthroughs.”

“This important initiative brings data together in a new way to support scientific breakthroughs,” said Reza Moridi, Ontario’s minister of research, innovation, and science. “Ontario is a leader in the life sciences and it is exciting to see Ontario researchers contributing their expertise to a world class research project that will have a real impact for patients.”

Medical doctors Lincoln Stein, OICR’s head of adaptive oncology; and Vincent Ferretti, OICR’s director of genome informatics, are serving as principal investigators for the Kids First DPR project. The OICR will provide additional support to design and develop additional web-based analytic tools for the project’s data sets.

“The Kids First Data Resource Center unites two research communities that rarely talk with each other: the birth defects community, which studies rare inherited mutations, and the pediatric cancer community, which studies mutations that are acquired after birth,” said Stein. “The resource will promote the exchange of ideas among the two communities and accelerate the discovery of new ways to treat these devastating childhood disorders.”

The Kids First Data Resource Center will also be supported by the investigators from the Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Seven Bridges Genomics, the University of Chicago, Children’s National Health System, and the Oregan Health and Science University.

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer at BetaKit. As a fourth-year journalism student who has written primarily about entrepreneurship, Amira has developed a growing interest in Canadian startup, business, and tech news. In her free time, Amira enjoys reading, baking and watching legal shows.