Prize-Fighter: NVIDIA Foundation Giving $25,000 to Top Cancer Researchers in DREAM Challenge

by Liz Austin

The NVIDIA Foundation is handing out $25,000 to the cancer-fighting research team that comes up with the best work in proteogenomics — the study of proteins and genomics — as part of a “DREAM Challenge” launching this spring by a team from the National Cancer Institute.

DREAM Challenges are community-based, collaborative competitions run by researchers and organizations in their respective fields. NCI’s Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium, or CPTAC, is inviting researchers from around the world to take on its DREAM Challenge in the area of proteogenomics.

With crowdsourcing, CPTAC hopes to find the best answers to some elusive questions in the field, and advance the fight against cancer.

Why Proteogenomics?

Cancer is a disease of the genome. An accumulation of gene mutations can cause changes to the shape, number and functioning of proteins, known collectively as the proteome, that drive activity within cells. And this can lead to the growth, spread and malignancy of tumors.

Understanding how to best analyze the proteogenomics of cancer is an important but relatively undeveloped field.

To advance things, the NCI-CPTAC DREAM Challenge has two focuses: predicting the abundance of individual proteins and predicting cellular status, both using a set of molecular data CPTAC has gathered.

Missing data is currently ubiquitous in proteomics studies, so understanding the abundance of one protein versus others would greatly aid research. Better understanding cellular characteristics would improve biomarker development, and thus aid the inferences researchers can make about cell function.

Compute the Cure

Sage Bionetworks’ Synapse system will provide researchers a set of web services that offer a common API for indexing, querying and accessing the data they’ll work with during the challenge. The Synapse system also supports publishing of results.

To speed their progress, researchers can access our Tesla K80 GPU accelerators through Google Cloud. And, as part of its Compute the Cure initiative to advance the fight against cancer, the NVIDIA Foundation is providing the $25,000 cash award to incentivize researchers to participate in the DREAM Challenge. Through grants and employee fundraising activities, we’ve donated more than $3 million to cancer causes since 2011.

One or more manuscripts describing the results of the NCI-CPTAC challenge will be submitted to the scientific journal Nature Methods. Challenge participants will also be invited to present their results at an upcoming genomics conference.