Berkeley wields big data to beat cancer

David Patterson

Researchers showed progress accelerating the search for gene-based cures for cancer and expanding the field of computer theory at an annual event sponsored by the University of California at Berkeley. They also discussed work on next-generation processor architectures and an effort to speed the development of an Internet of Things.

Computer scientist David A. Patterson called for a million genome warehouse to advance work on a cure for cancer. Today separate repositories hold less than 10,000 pieces of genetic information, many of them only partial representations of genes.

“There‚Äôs a chance for computer science to help build fast and accurate genetic pipelines and accelerate the move to personalized therapies–I want this in time to help me and my family,” he said, noting researchers today often delete genetic data after completing experiments.

Patterson helped develop a tool called SNAP that provides significantly faster and more accurate genetic analysis that tools typically used by cancer researchers today (see below). Benchmarking tools are still needed to improve what are still highly subjective methods used in the field, he said.

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