Although the traditional approach to identifying cancer-causing genetic alterations and interactions has been focused on single genes or proteins, we increasingly recognize that alterations of biological processes involve coordinated changes in the expression of dozens or hundreds of genes, or in the activity of multiple signaling pathways. With the availability of the complete sequence of the human and mouse genomes, experimentalists can now use global approaches that simultaneously examine multitudes of genes at once. In addition, the ability to collect these rich data from clinical specimens using automated analysis of images, or proteomic approaches to the kinome, is also rapidly growing. These developments necessitate the integration of genetics, genomics and proteomics, with pathology and clinical oncology research. To manage and analyze these complex datasets, translational researchers must be facile with bioinformatics, statistics, and biostatistics. In response to these needs, the UNC Breast SPORE has developed Core B, the Genomics, Biostatistics, and Bioinformatics shared resource. Under the experienced leadership of the SPORE Co-PI Charles Perou (Genetics), Dr. Joe Ibrahim (Biostatistics) and Dr. Steve Marron (Statistics), Core B brings together under one roof three critical services - Genomic assays (DNA microarrays, mRNA- sequencing and gene expression profiling using FFPE RNA and the Nanostring platform), a robust Bioinformatics computing environment, and expertise in Biostatistics and Statistics - and focuses these resources on translational breast cancer research. All proposed SPORE Projects (1-5) will work with Core B. The Core B services are tunneled into this core through three UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC) shared resources - namely the Genomics Core Facility, the Bioinformatics Core, and the Biostatistics Core. In all of these LCCC Cores, the studies of Breast SPORE investigators have spurred the development of methods and equipment upgrades that have benefited and stimulated other Cancer Center research. By supporting key personnel in these LCCC Cores, the UNC Breast SPORE is assuring priority service and performance. Dr. Perou's expertise and experience with these services, and his leadership of the Cancer Center's Genomics &Bioinformatics Cores, together with Dr. Marron and Dr. Ibrahim's experience as the LCCC Biostatistics Core leader, means that Core B is integral to this Breast SPORE, integrated into the Cancer Center structure, and poised to provide priority services for Breast SPORE investigators.
Cancer biology and clinical medicine are becoming more and more dependent upon the analysis of complex and large datasets, which are often based upon genomic and/or proteomic data accompanied by pathological and clinical data. The coordinated analysis of these multiple data types requires a highly sophisticated, facile, and rigorous bioinformatics and statistical infrastructure. This Core brings together all the needed expertise and tools for these computational challenges so that advances in breast cancer treatment can be made.
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