Cancer informatics research

NCI builds out collaborative hub for cancer researchers

The National Cancer Institute’s National Cancer Informatics Program (NCIP) is launching a new online forum, NCIP Hub, part of an effort at NCIP to help cancer researchers collaborate virtually and access community-generated data, tools, standards and other resources.

 “Our goal is to establish an NCIP Hub that can serve as a ‘marketplace’ that allows cancer researchers to share and access relevant informatics resources; upload, test and develop relevant tools; and share, teach and learn using the platform’s collaboration and learning management capabilities,” noted Ishwar Chandramouliswaran, program manager, NCIP, in his blog announcing the project.

As part of that effort, NCIP is testing an open source collaborative platform, HUBzero, a tool that has been used to establish online forums across the scientific research community.

The HUBzero platform, developed by researchers at Purdue University was spun out as a separate project from nanoHUB.org in 2007 to power new hubs.  Today the platform supports more than 20 hubs, including the NSF Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, which connects 14 institutions for simulation and experimental data collection. Other HUBzero hubs include pharmaHUB.org, thermalHUB.org and GlobalHUB.org.

HUBzero is built on the Linux operating system on an Apache Web server using a MySQL database, the Joomla content management system and the PHP web scripting language.

HUBzero includes a powerful content management system built to support scientific activities. Researchers can work together in projects, publish data sets and computational tools and make these resources available for others to use as live, interactive digital resources. Simulation/modeling tools published on a hub can be accessed with the click of a button, according to the HUBzero website. They run on cloud computing resources, campus clusters and other national high-performance computing facilities and can support compelling visualizations.

The site provides access to interactive simulation tools via Web browsers, a simulation tool development area, scientific workflows, private project areas for scientific collaboration, video seminars and presentations and capabilities for uploading and sharing data as well as a user support forum.

Online government collaborative efforts in science is an ongoing trend. Last year NASA announced the formation of a virtual institute, NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, a collaborative effort of nine research teams from seven states, to focus on questions concerning space science and human space exploration.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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