White House: Dana-Farber’s Quackenbush a ‘Champion of Change’


John Quackenbush, PhDJohn Quackenbush, PhD

The Obama administration will be honoring John Quackenbush, PhD, director of the Center for Cancer Computational Biology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, for his contributions to making large and complex sets of biological data widely accessible to the larger research community.

In a White House ceremony on Thursday, June 20, 1 p.m., Quackenbush and 12 other scientists and entrepreneurs will be recognized as Open Science Champions of Change for their work to promote, and make a reality, the open sharing of scientific data. This exchange of research findings, according to the Obama administration, expedites scientific innovation.

“Open sharing of research results is a proven strategy for driving scientific change,” according to a White House statement. “For example, the rapid and open sharing of genomic data from the Human Genome Project revolutionized biomedical research, and spurred major growth in the biotechnology industry.”

The Champions of Change program is part of President Barack Obama’s Winning the Future Initiative, which highlights individuals, businesses, and organizations who make positive impacts on communities.

“This is a wonderful honor, and it is equally exciting to have the White House recognize that these efforts to promote open access to genomic data are valuable and key to scientific innovation,” said Quackenbush, who is a professor of Cancer Biology and Biostatistics and Computational Biology at Dana-Farber and a professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at Harvard School of Public Health.

Quackenbush said that making it easier for researchers to share genomic data is only one part of the equation. “While we want to make data available, it is important that it is also accessible and useful.”  With that in mind, Quackenbush’s research has led to the establishment of GenoSpace, a firm he co-founded that develops software for genomic data handling and analysis. GenoSpace has created portals to support the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation’s CoMMpass study, which seeks to define the molecular subtypes of multiple myeloma and to place the resulting data, along with related clinical information, in an open-access platform.

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