Month: May 2017

Is sharing always caring? On open genomic data sharing and why people do it.

Originally published at Repositive blog and is reproduced with permission. Special thanks to Tobias Haeusermann1, (postdoctoral researcher at University of Zürich), and Bastian Greshake2 (co-founder of for collaborating to write this guest blog post. In times of political turmoil, we tend to see discussions about the responsibility of science in academic circles. But unfortunately, something is rotten in the state of academia too. While the academic pursuit should, first and foremost, entail the cultural accumulation of knowledge and its transmission across generations and borders, the structures and strictures of science often tend to hinder rather than foster the sharing of knowledge. In their recent book “A Passion for Society: How We Think about Human Suffering”, sociologist Iain Wilkinson and medical anthropologist Arthur Kleinman openly address academia’s centuries-old dirty little secret: the barriers the ‘ideal’ dispassionate researchers erect around themselves is frequently selfish and self-serving. Oftentimes, Wilkinson and Kleinman write “what now passes as social science is in thrall to technocratic procedures and structures of career that leave it critically sterile, cynical and devoid of passion” (p. xi). They conclude that now might be the time to renegotiate the terms once again. As medical researcher John Tregoning lamented in his […]

Reflections from my time with the Genomic Data Commons

This post is by Piers Nash – biochemist, data evangelist and futurist. Originally published on his personal blog and is reproduced with permission. I have spent the past 13 years at The University of Chicago – most of that time as a faculty of Cancer Research. From December 2013 through January 2017 I spent my days (and a fair number of nights) working with the University of Chicago’s Center for Data Intensive Science. During that time, I had the unique privilege to be integrally involved in what I view as a truly transformational national effort to develop a purpose-built private object storage cloud for the Nations’ cancer genomic data. This is the National Cancer Institute’s Genomic Data Commons, or GDC. The team at the University of Chicago architected and built the GDC starting in 2013, and we launched on June 6, 2016 with none other than Vice President Joe Biden. With forward-looking technology, scale and use cases, we were in a position to make the project a centerpiece of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative. At launch, the GDC became the largest repository of harmonized cancer genomic data on Earth. As I depart the University of Chicago and leave this amazing project standing […]