Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

National Cancer Institute
You are here: Home National Cancer Informatics Program NCI Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots

NCI Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots

Awards have been made for the Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilot Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) No. N01CO42400-80. The awardees are The Broad Institute, The Institute for Systems Biology, and Seven Bridges Genomics, Inc. Additional details are available at FedBizOpps. Related Information Resources can be found below on this page.

On This Page

Current Needs in Cancer Research

The challenges posed by the need to disseminate, manage, and interpret large, multi-scale data pervade efforts to advance understanding of cancer biology and apply that knowledge in the clinic. For several years, the volume of data routinely generated by high-throughput research technologies has grown exponentially. The storage, transmission, and analysis of these data have become too costly for individual laboratories and most small to medium research organizations to support. For optimal progress to occur, access to large, valuable data collections and advanced computational capacity must be readily available to the widest possible audience.

On April 7, 2013, Dr. Harold Varmus and other members of the Institute's senior leadership issued a letter to NCI grantees seeking input on these and other computational challenges they encounter on an almost daily basis. Dr. Varmus stated that the NCI, as part of its ongoing investigations into next-generation computational capabilities to serve the research community, has begun exploring the possibility of creating one or more public "cancer knowledge clouds" in which data repositories would be co-located with advanced computing resources, thereby enabling researchers to bring their analytical tools and methods to the data. Reactions to this informal request for information were generally positive, with respondents focusing on six general themes: data access; computing capacity and infrastructure; data interoperability; training; usability; and governance.

Based in part on this information, Dr. George Komatsoulis, then interim director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology (CBIIT), which administers the National Cancer Informatics Program (NCIP), led the creation of a concept document describing a project to develop up to three cancer genomics cloud pilots for review by the cancer-research community. Dr. Komatsoulis presented the concept (time reference 05:58:00) at a joint meeting of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors (BSA) and the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) on June 24, 2013, where it received unanimous approval.

Soon after the concept was approved, NCI issued a Research and Development Sources Sought Notice providing a synopsis of requirements and asking respondents to submit capability statements. The deadline for submissions was July 24, 2013.

Simultaneously with beginning the procurement process, the NCIP established an IdeaScale site on August 8, 2013 to allow the community to contribute critical use cases that the cloud pilots will need to support. For more detailed information, consult the official Request for Information: IdeaScale for Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots on FedBizOpps. A recent posting on the NCI Biomedical Informatics Blog explains the rationale behind the decision to use IdeaScale.

The IdeaScale site will be locked from additional input to coincide with the release of the BAA. It will remain open, however, as a reference for potential offerors.

Back to Top

The Contracting and Award Process

In preparation for the BAA, the NCI posted a pre-solicitation notice on November 25, 2013, on FedBizOpps that announced the online pre-proposal conference described above in the gray box.

The BAA is the specific contract mechanism that will support development of the cancer genomics cloud pilots. The project will go through three phases:

  • Design
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation

The organizations selected to develop the clouds will be expected to collaborate with each other and with the groups managing the NCI Center for Cancer Genomics (CCG) Data Coordinating Center. NCIP activities are being conducted in concert with the CCG Data Coordinating Center, which will provide an authoritative public data set for use in the cloud pilots. Interchange among the organizations involved will help ensure adherence to a common set of data elements and vocabularies among the cloud pilots in support of operations that may span cloud implementations.

News Articles and Press Releases

U.G. Thomas, Broad-led Team to Use $7M NCI Contract to Adapt Internal Firehose Infrastructure to the Cloud, BioInform, October 31, 2014.

U.G. Thomas, Seven Bridges Gets NCI Cloud Pilot Contract, Tailoring its Own AWS-based System for Cancer Research, BioInform, October 24, 2014.

Google Teams Up to Put Cancer Genome Research Up in the Cloud,, accessed October 16, 2014.

ISB Gets $6.5 Million from NCI, Technology Networks, October 14, 2014.

N.P. Taylor, Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) teams with Google for NCI Cancer Genomics Cloud project, FierceBiotechIT, October 13, 2014

U.G. Thomas, NCI Contracts ISB, Google, SRA Team to Develop Infrastructure for Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots, BioInform, October 10, 2014

NIH Seeks to Develop Cancer Genomics Cloud to Boost Data Access, iHealthBeat, January 27, 2014

A. Brino, Feds Gird for Cancer Genomics Clouds. Government Health IT, January 24, 2014

N.P. Taylor, The NCI is Offering $20M to Pilot Projects That Move Cancer Genomics Into the Cloud. FierceBiotechIT, January 22, 2014

U.G. Thomas, NCI Begins Accepting Proposals for Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots. BioInform, January 17, 2014

C. Marsan, NCI Cracks Open Cancer Research By Moving It to the Cloud. Government Computing News (GCN), January 7, 2014

J. Marks, Bidding Process Begins for Cancer-curing Computer Clouds. NextGov Newsletter, November 26, 2013

J. Marks, How Computer Clouds Could Help Cure Cancer. NextGov Newsletter, August 5, 2013

J. Foley, 10 Game-Changing Developments in Government Clouds. Forbes, July 29, 2013

U.G. Thomas, NCI Board Approves Proposed Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots. BioInform, July 12, 2013

Back to Top

Related Information Resources

G. Komatsoulis, Computational Needs for Large-scale Data Analysis: Towards a Cancer Knowledge Cloud (NCI Biomedical Informatics Blog)

Dr. Harold Varmus Requests Input on NCI Cloud Initiative: Letter to All NCI Grantees, April 2013

J. Klemm, Input on Cancer Knowledge Clouds: Key Themes from the Community (NCI Biomedical Informatics Blog)

Summary of Input Request: Computational Needs to Support Large-scale Genomics Investigations

NIH Videocast Archive: Joint Meeting of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors and the National Cancer Advisory Board, June 24, 2013 (time reference 05:58:00)

G. Komatsoulis, NCI Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots Concept (PDF)

Research and Development Sources Sought Notice for Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots (Solicitation Number: HHS-NIH-NCI-RDSS-MOSB-2402-80)

G. Komatsoulis, NCI Board of Scientific Advisors Approves NCI Cancer Genomics Cloud Concept (NCI Biomedical Informatics Blog)

Share Your Priorities for the NCI Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots (Ideascale)

Request for Information: IdeaScale for Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots (Solicitation Number: HHS-NIH-NCI-RDSS-MOSB-2402-80)

J. Klemm, Invitation for Public Comment on Analysis and Data Priorities for the NCI Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots (NCI Biomedical Informatics Blog)

George Komatsoulis, Ph.D., Research and Technical Objectives, presentation at the Pre-Proposal Conference, January 6, 2014 (PDF)

Lynne Darby, Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots Broad Agency Announcement, presentation at the Pre-Proposal Conference, January 6, 2014 (PDF)

Thomas M. Vollberg, Sr., Ph.D., Peer Review Evaluation, presentation at the Pre-Proposal Conference, January 6, 2014 (PDF)

List of Attendees, Pre-Proposal Conference, January 6, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), Pre-Proposal Conference, January 6, 2014

Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots (Solicitation Number: N01CO42400-80)

Back to Top

NCI Biomedical Informatics Blog
The Oncology Models Forum

December 02, 2014 - My previous post highlighted how the imaging community is leveraging NCIP Hub’s capabilities to run its image analysis needs and to collaborate on tool development.  This post discusses how the NCI plans to use NCIP Hub to address the need for robust, reliable translational use of mouse and human-in-mouse models. The NCI established the Mouse …

Continue reading »

Three-Dimensional (3D) Printing: A Gateway to Precision Cancer Medicine

August 20, 2014 - Researchers are using 3D printing to gain insights that contribute to advances in basic biomedical research and the development of precision medical therapies by creating 3D models of pathogens, tumors, normal tissues, cells, and biomolecules. Dr. Sriram Subramaniam, principal investigator in the Laboratory of Cell Biology at the NCI Center for Cancer Research (CCR), uses …

Continue reading »

NCIP Hub: Addressing Imaging Community Needs

August 19, 2014 - In his earlier post, Ishwar Chandramouliswaran introduced the objectives of the NCIP Hub, an online resource for research and collaboration in cancer informatics. As a scientific repository, the NCIP Hub can store community-generated data, tools, and other resources. Members can upload tools, conduct analyses, and collaborate, giving researchers the opportunity to engage with and leverage …

Continue reading »

NCIP Hub: A Platform for Scientific Collaboration, Resource Sharing, and Education

May 12, 2014 - One of the major goals of the NCIP is to help facilitate open innovation and scientific collaboration in the cancer research and informatics community.  To that end, we have undertaken several projects, two of which were the focus of previous NCIP blog posts:  The Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilot, an initiative to democratize access to and …

Continue reading »

Read more from the blog