"Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe."
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Our bioinformatics goals, activities and functions for the renewal program have been reorganized within three cross-functional core resources: the IDDC Core (overall design and development of the TRDB), the Clinical Biostatistics Core (structure, integration, and analysis of the clinical data), and the Data Interpretation Core (derivation of biological and clinical “sense” of the data).
Information Dissemination and Data Coordination
Laboratory and clinical data must be stored in a protected environment. All research data must be secure against unauthorized access, yet readily available to participating investigators for study and analysis. After the data is validated, annotated and certified, it must also be made accessible to Consortium members. Operating the computer systems and designing the software to satisfy these requirements is the responsibility of the Information Dissemination and Data Coordination (IDDC) Core. The IDDC core supports the information needs of the other cores to facilitate the analysis and interpretation of clinical, genomic, proteomic and other types of data.
The IDDC Core’s activities also include working with researchers in the other core groups to ascertain the requirements and specifications for computer software systems that will support the Program’s research goals. Some of these systems are newly designed and developed by IDDC Core personnel to satisfy the Program’s specialized requirements, while others are adaptations of existing, publicly available software such as the NIH-funded Trial/DB system for clinical data.
A major challenge in clinical research is obtaining a clinical data set large enough and of highest quality to elucidate the etiology of what is being studied. The research subjects must be heterogeneous enough to generalize to a wide patient population, and the data must be consistent enough to be pooled for analysis. The program leaders felt strongly that it was critical to those investigators involved ultimately in the analysis phase of the program for the statisticians and the clinical data manager of the CBC to be involved in the upfront design phase of the clinical database.
Inflammation and the Host Response to Injury scientists generate vast amounts of laboratory and clinical data. For example, each microarray chip alone provides patient-specific data on more than 20,000 genes. To help investigators explore and understand the meaning of all this information, the Data Interpretation Core (DIC) performs a wide range of mathematical analyses and statistical tests. These techniques include novel algorithms for interpreting the outcome of DNA microarray experiments, as well as standard tests of statistical significance to ensure that the preliminary and published results are robust and statistically valid.
Other types of information resulting from the Program’s research, such as proteomics and clinical (patient) data, also require extensive mathematical analysis and tests of statistical significance. CAM DIC personnel work closely with the other core groups to quantify, interpret and validate all research results.