Identifying Research Gaps and Setting a Research Agenda

October 29, 2019 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. ET

The National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology (CBIIT) Director Dr. Tony Kerlavage will participate in a panel at the "Applying Big Data to Address the Social Determinants of Health in Oncology" workshop discussing the research gaps and setting the research agenda.

The collection and analysis of big data is expected to transform the field of cancer research and improve cancer care. Innovations in analytic methods, coupled with large-scale efforts to collect big data, are advancing progress in precision medicine initiatives and facilitating research on factors that influence cancer incidence and outcomes. 

However, not all individuals and communities may benefit equally from these advances: concerns remain about whether applications of big data research will reduce existing health disparities in oncology, or whether they might inadvertently exacerbate these disparities. Analyses of big data have the potential to elucidate ways in which the social determinants of health contribute to cancer incidence and outcomes, and may also identify promising avenues for intervention. At the same time, the under representation of minority and vulnerable populations in big data sets may lead to biased conclusions that threaten equitable progress in cancer research and care. 

The National Cancer Policy Forum will hold a workshop on October 28-29, 2019 to examine the social determinants of health in the context of cancer, and to consider opportunities to effectively leverage big data to improve health equity and reduce disparities. The workshop will feature invited presentations and discussion on topics such as:

  • The impact of social determinants of health on cancer incidence and outcomes 
  • Ways to capture precise and meaningful data on social determinants of health in oncology 
  • Strategies for assessing exposure to environmental factors that may affect cancer incidence and outcomes 
  • Potential opportunities to reduce bias in capturing and applying big data in oncology 
  • Examples of how big data could be used to support health equity in oncology 

For more information about the workshop, visit the workshop website.

Tony Kerlavage, Ph.D.

Dr. Tony Kerlavage is the director of NCI’s Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology (CBIIT), having previously served for 5 years as chief of the Cancer Informatics Branch. Under his purview were the launches of the Cancer Research Data Commons and the NCI Cloud Resources. Prior to joining NCI, Dr. Kerlavage spent over 25 years managing a range of information technology services and data science programs with an emphasis on open software and open data.  He was a founding member and director of the Department of Bioinformatics at The Institute for Genomic Research and, subsequently, Celera Genomics, where he served as senior director of the Online Information Business.

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