Using Cancer Big Data to improve Patient Treatment and Stratification

Andrew Blake is the Strategic Data Platform Development Lead at the Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre and for the S:CORT consortium. He has a degree in human genetics and a master’s in bioinformatics. Andrew has created a variety of bioinformatics databases, web portals and developed analysis pipelines as well as spearheading the system administration of the high availability, high performance computing infrastructure supporting EU wide and international programmes. He played a key role in an international bioinformatics consortium working closely with the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) and the Welcome Trust Sanger Institute. Andrew is now working with complex multi-parametric cancer datasets (including DNA sequencing, RNA expression, DNA methylation, IHC and clinical patient data) across a range of digestive cancers including Oesophageal and Colorectal, applying the best practises in bioinformatics pipeline development, data standardisation, computing infrastructure, data visualisation and collaborative tools that underpin discovery and validation of a series of novel cancer patient stratification signatures.

Bowel Cancer is a complex disease, many researchers apply different laboratory based techniques to identify novel ways of diagnosing and treating patients. Andrew identifies the latest information technologies to support these researchers providing quality control, analysis and interpretation of their big cancer datasets and facilitates sharing the data across researchers with complementary interests.

Andrew and the S:CORT team are looking at patient response to chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgical intervention as well as novel therapeutics in order to stratify patients to receive the most appropriate treatment based on their biomarker data. By determining a patient’s potential response or non-response to a treatment this research can offer clinicians the best knowledge to plan each patient’s treatment so that they receive the right therapeutic options as their first line therapy.

Andrew’s collaborators within S:CORT are Peter Campbell (Welcome Trust Sanger Institute), Dr Andrew Beggs, Professor Ian Tomlinson and Professor Dion Morton (University of Birmingham), Professor Manuel Salto-Tellez and Dr Philip Dunne (Queens University Belfast), Professor Philip Quirke  (University of Leeds), Louise Brown and Professor Rick Kaplan  (MRC Clinical Trials Unit), and commercial partners Almac Diagnostics and Indica Labs.

MRC and CRUK are funding Andrew’s work on S:CORT, he receives further funding through the CRUK Oxford Centre.