Research News

CCR to play important role in ‘moonshot’ project at Roswell

view of two people standing in a hallway surrounded by computer mainframes

The Center for Computational Research's high-performance computing systems will support the new Data Management and Resource-Sharing Center at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Photo: Douglas Levere

By ELLEN GOLDBAUM

Published October 1, 2018

“Cancer science is now a data-driven science, and computational methods are now a fundamental part of cancer research. Fifty years ago, it was a test tube and a beaker. Now it always includes a computer and a quantitative scientist.”
Alan Hutson, chair, Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

UB’s Center for Computational Research (CCR) will play an important role in the $6.28 million Cancer Moonshot award announced last week by Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. The award is part of the National Cancer Institute’s Moonshot Initiative.

The funds will cover the cost of creating and maintaining for five years a Data Management and Resource-Sharing Center (DMRC) to serve the Immuno-Oncology Translational Network (IOTN), which directly responds to the goals of the moonshot.  

The DMRC at Roswell Park will serve as the network’s overall coordination, administration, data-integration and resource-sharing hub, a major national resource that will provide technical and logistical support and resources to 13 other cancer moonshot sites within the IOTN network.

The center will be led by four Roswell Park faculty members: Alan Hutson, chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and research professor of biostatistics in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions at UB; Kunle Odunsi, Roswell Park’s deputy director, chair of gynecologic oncology, executive director of its Center for Immunotherapy and professor of obstetrics-gynecology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB; and Martin Morgan  and Song Liu, both UB research professors of biostatistics.

The Moonshot Initiative was launched in 2016 to create a network to speed development of new immune-based cancer treatment approaches and prevention strategies, and to expand the number of people who can benefit from immunotherapy.

Hutson says Roswell Park’s strengths were an outstanding fit for the broad and intensive needs of the projects this center will support, while UB’s CCR is another critical resource, providing high-performance computing and data storage.

“Cancer science is now a data-driven science, and computational methods are now a fundamental part of cancer research,” he explains. “Fifty years ago, it was a test tube and a beaker. Now it always includes a computer and a quantitative scientist.”

Thomas Furlani, director of CCR, says CCR, a leading academic supercomputing facility, “is pleased to team with the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center on such an impactful project that seeks to speed the transition of basic medical discoveries into clinical applications that improve immunotherapy outcomes for many types of cancers, as well as to prevent cancers before they occur.”

He notes that CCR’s involvement exemplifies how medical and scientific research today has become critically dependent on access to advanced computing resources.  

“CCR’s high-performance computing systems are ideally suited to support the DMRC,” Furlani says. “In particular, the DMRC will leverage CCR’s 16,000-processor supercomputer and a novel, newly developed cloud-based system that provides researchers with an on-demand Infrastructure as a Service resource to quickly launch custom workflows.”

He adds that CCR’s extensive computing facilities are located on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, within the same city block as Roswell.  

Led by Furlani; Steven Gallo, lead software engineer; and Sam Guercio, lead systems administrator, CCR will leverage its informatics expertise and computing resources to support the DMRC effort.

More information about the Immuno-Oncology Translational Network and its role in the cancer moonshot is available here.