We are turning 'big data' into actionable science — and turning health care on its head.

The genomic revolution is here. Scientists are generating data of such magnitude and complexity that advanced computational methods are vital for data analysis, management and dissemination.

  • Large-scale DNA sequencing has made it possible to analyze individuals down to even the smallest change.
  • Researchers now have the unprecedented ability to edit and reprogram DNA by using the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing tool. But this technology is new and somewhat unpredictable.
  • Genomic technologies generate data of such magnitude and complexity that advanced bioinformatics and computational methods are essential to their application. 

JAX Research: catalyzing innovation in genomic technologies

Developing the next generation of gene editing platforms

Most of our most common and difficult-to-cure diseases — cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders — involve many genes at the same time. So when working with gene networks, it can be hugely valuable to manipulate multiple genes within a network or pathway at the same time. 

In his lab, genetic engineer Albert Cheng is making genome editing technology more useful and versatile for researchers, so scientists around the world will be able to learn much more about the genome dynamics and gene networks at play in complex diseases.

Mapping the genomic landscape to open new chapters in disease research

The human genome folds itself in coils and loops, and JAX molecular biologist Yijun Ruan is a leader in the discovery of just how important that three-dimensional organization is to health and disease.

Yijun aims to fast-track research in all human disease, including cancer and epilepsy, by developing advanced genome technologies that have been eagerly adopted by the worldwide scientific community. These tools cut through the complexity of genomic data and are providing brand-new insights into how variations in the genome may lead to disease. 

Increasing the potential for precision medicine breakthroughs in the fight against cancer

In patient-derived tumor xenograft (PDX) clinical trials, tumor models are created using fragments of a patient’s tumor that can be grown in mice to supply test tissue that can be used for research.

These xenografts are powerful models for assessing the drug efficacy of anti-cancer agents and understanding the molecular mechanisms of drug resistance. To realize the potential of this breakthrough, researchers must address the challenges with standardizing the processes and sharing the PDX specimens and data.

To meet this challenge, JAX computational biologist Jeffrey Chuang is building a data platform to coordinate large-scale testing for preclinical therapeutic cancer drugs in PDX trials. The project is using innovative cloud computing and bioinformatic approaches to organize the analysis of new PDX studies being led by scientists at multiple institutes.