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TCGA Imaging Genomics

Driven by input from its scientific community, the Cancer Imaging Program (CIP) finds itself at the junction of two powerful scientific requisites; the need for cross-disciplinary research and inter-institutional data-sharing to speed scientific discovery and reduce redundancy, and the need to provide imaging phenotype data to augment large scale genomic analysis. 

Image data collections are being built and archived in The Cancer Imaging Archive to offer an opportunity to encourage a new and emerging research community focused on connecting cancer phenotypes to genotypes by making available clinical images matched to the NIH TCGA (The Cancer Genome Atlas)

TCGA began in 2006 as a three-year pilot jointly sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and National Human Genome Research Institute. The TCGA pilot project (focused initially on glioblastoma, ovary, and lung cancers) confirmed that an atlas of genomic changes could be constructed for specific cancer types. It also showed that a national network of research and technology teams working on related projects could pool their efforts, create an economy of scale and develop an infrastructure for making the data publicly accessible. Importantly, it proved that making the data freely available would enable distributed researchers to make and validate important discoveries. The success of that pilot led the National Institutes of Health to commit major new resources to TCGA to collect and characterize more than 20 additional tumor types.

As an opportunity to leverage that wealth of new biomedical knowledge, CIP committed substantial effort to gather and place in TCIA the clinical diagnostic images that match the genomically analyzed TCGA tissue cases. CIP has encouraged an ad hoc image research team to study glioblastoma. The Cancer Imaging Archive now contains a TCGA-GBM collection with images from more than 150 cases whose molecular and clinical patient data can be accessed in the TCGA Data Portal.  A multi-institutional team of researchers from Thomas Jefferson University, University of Virginia, Emory, Stanford, Henry Ford Hospital and NCI CCR have created the TCGA Glioma Phenotype Research Group.  In less than a year’s time they have quickly demonstrated the advantages of such scientific collaboration by their rapid scientific progress with a number of publications and abstracts presented and in the pipeline for future venues. 

Presently, CIP is developing agreements with many of the TCGA Tissue Site Source institutions to collect and archive diagnostic images that match the genomic data now being deposited in the publically accessible TCGA Data Portal on cancers of the breast (BRCA), renal (KIRC), and lung (LUAD) and in due time, many of the future 20-plus tumors that TCGA will characterize as the program moves forward.  Similar ad-hoc research groups are forming around these additional cancer types.  Collection accrual status on these TCGA data sets is always available on the TCIA Image Collections page.