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cBio Center at Dana-Farber

  • Mission and goals

    Chris Sander, PhD, director of the cBio Center at Dana-Farber. Sander is co-founder of the computational biology field and a leader in applying its methods to cancer research.

    The cBio Center at Dana-Farber — part of the Department of Data Science — has the far-reaching, three-fold mission to:

    • Provide oncologists with tools to mine genomic patient data for research and for guiding treatment decisions.
    • Devise strategies to overcome resistance to targeted cancer drugs.
    • Create new connections between scientists at Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School, including collaborative structures for scientists using quantitative sciences to solve biological problems.

    More specifically, the goals of the Center are to:

    • Discover combination therapies to block molecular "escape pathways" that tumors activate in developing resistance to targeted agents.
    • Design genomically informed clinical trials based on analysis of various tumor types in The Cancer Genome Atlas and in Dana-Farber's tumor genomic profiles.
    • Deliver decision support for oncologists to efficiently match patients with clinical trials and to make precision medicine treatment choices.
    Analysis of EGFR network in lung adenocarcinoma

    Dana-Farber's cBio Center team develops and uses powerful computational algorithms, tools, and systems that are accelerating research on the molecular basis of various cancers and opening pathways to new drugs and clinical trials. One such system, cBioPortal for Cancer Genomics, is in use by tens of thousands of researchers worldwide.

    A local instance of the cBioPortal at Dana-Farber contains genomic data obtained by the Profile research project from tumors of over 11,000 patients. For clinical oncologists and researchers at Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), cBioPortal provides a user-friendly tool for evaluating mutations and complex genomic changes in patients' cancers.



    cBio Center lead scientist Ethan Cerami, PhD

    The director of the cBio Center, Chris Sander, PhD, brings vast expertise and experience to the Institute during a time of growing need to make sense of the enormous amounts of data being generated by DNA sequencing and molecular tumor analysis. Sander's research on molecular networks in cancer has led to mathematical models for predicting response to therapies across multiple types of cancer, and discovering molecular processes that underlie cancer development.

    Ethan Cerami, PhD, is a lead scientist in the department and director of the cBio Center's Knowledge Systems Group, which focuses on building clinical and research platforms for precision medicine. Cerami was the principal software architect for the original cBioPortal for Cancer Genomics; Cerami is now co-leading the open-source, multi-institutional collaborative effort for its future development — assembling highly interactive teams to accelerate the development of cures for cancer.