As leader of the clinical bioinformatics analysis team, Dr. Newman's group analyzes the whole genome and transcriptions sequence data generated for every St. Jude patient's tumor. The team's job, in his words, is to "make sense of a vast amount of data and use it to guide patient care".
In addition to that work, Dr. Newman's team is also leading the biological efforts of the St. Jude Cloud team. St. Jude Cloud currently hosts more than 5,000 whole genome sequences (which comprise half a petabyte of data). That number is expected to double by the first quarter of 2019, making St. Jude Cloud one of the largest public whole genome sequencing sets in the world. Researchers are able to access data on pediatric cancer and other diseases treated and studied at St. Jude at no charge.
The collaboration, either direct or indirectly between St. Jude researchers and external researchers who use St. Jude Cloud could result in new biological discoveries and, eventually, new treatment options not only in the U.S., but in other countries where cancer cure rates may not be as high.
And those discoveries aren't just limited to pediatric cancer. In some cases, novel genetic mutations discovered in pediatric cancers are also found in adult cancer patients. Thanks to St. Jude Cloud, collaborations that may have historically taken years to yield results can happen in a fraction of that time.
"Collaboration would be happening, but it would happen very slowly if we weren't doing this," Dr. Newman says.