November 21, 2018
GA4GH releases its latest standards for genomics search engines, a project co-led by OICR Associate, Dr. Marc Fiume
While we are generating genomic data at an unprecedented rate, it is collected and studied in academic and clinical settings around the world with different data privacy requirements, making it difficult to share this knowledge. Researchers must undergo a lengthy process to request access to data and until now there has been no way to know if a data set contains information that is relevant to the research being conducted.
October 23, 2018
The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) held its 6th Plenary Meeting in Basel, Switzerland earlier this month. The meeting brought together more than 430 participants from 25 countries, making it the biggest GA4GH event yet. Attendees of the meeting learned about GA4GH Connect – a strategic phase focused on connecting GA4GH development work to the immediate data sharing needs of the community.
At the meeting, Peter Goodhand, Chief Executive Officer of GA4GH, announced a call for new real-world genomic data initiatives – Driver Projects – with a specific focus on global collaboration and scientific merit. The Steering Committee will announce the accepted Driver Projects in February 2019.
Also at the meeting, Dr. Marc Fiume, Chief Executive Officer of DNAstack and OICR Associate, presented on the recent progress of the Beacon Project – an international collaborative initiative that has developed a realtime discovery platform for genetic mutations. The Beacon Project has released Beacon API V1.0.0 on Friday – the first genomic data interoperability standard from the GA4GH 2018 Strategic Roadmap.
“It was a fantastic meeting and an eye-opening experience to learn about how the field of precision medicine is linking genomic tools with clinical databases and patient outcomes to drive a patient-centered, learning healthcare model,” says Dr. Laszlo Radvanyi, President and Scientific Director of OICR. “GA4GH continues to play a critical role in establishing standards for genomic data acquisition, quality, interpretation, integrity, security, and sharing that many national genomic health initiatives are beginning to embrace around the world.”
August 21, 2018
Formalizing his longstanding relationship with OICR, Dr. Marc Fiume joins the Institute as an Associate to turn big data into a cure
“We know there are valuable – potentially life-saving – genomics and clinical data that are locked away in the sever rooms in hospital basements,” says Dr. Marc Fiume, CEO of DNAstack, Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto, and OICR’s newest Associate. “We’re working to make these data more findable, accessible and useful to help researchers find cures for diseases faster than ever before.”
February 9, 2018
The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) has laid out its plans for the next five years as it continues to align its activities with meeting the key needs of the genomics data community. The Strategic Roadmap encompasses the standards and frameworks that will be developed by GA4GH and will be updated with new deliverables annually. OICR is a GA4GH Host Institution.
October 18, 2017
Orlando, Florida (October 17, 2017) – The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) has struck formal collaborations with 15 international genomic data initiatives as 2017 Driver Projects, including Genomics England, Australian Genomics and the U.S. All of Us Research Program. The announcement, made at the GA4GH 5th Plenary Meeting, comes as part of the launch of GA4GH Connect: A 5-year Strategic Plan. GA4GH Connect aims to drive uptake of standards and frameworks for genomic data sharing within the research and healthcare communities in order to enable responsible sharing of clinical-grade genomic data by 2022.
October 17, 2017
The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) has launched a new five-year strategic plan to develop international standards that will enable the responsible and secure sharing of genomic data for both scientific and clinical purposes. The plan, known as GA4GH Connect, was launched at the organization’s 5th Plenary Meeting in Orlando, Florida.
May 8, 2017
OICR is pleased to announce that Mr. Peter Goodhand is OICR’s new President for a one-year term. Goodhand served as Interim President of OICR over the past 10 months, in addition to his role as Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH). We spoke to Goodhand about why he took on the new, expanded job, how it differs from his previous role, what this means for the search for a permanent OICR President and Scientific Director and what he’s planning for the next year at OICR.
January 10, 2017
The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health’s (GA4GH) Beacon Project has partnered with ELIXIR, the body that organizes Europe’s infrastructure for life science data, to make genomic data in that continent more easily discoverable by researchers. The Beacon Project is a demonstration project that enables genomic data centres to make their data more easily discoverable to users by allowing them to use simple queries to explore a dataset’s contents.
October 25, 2016
OICR’s reputation as leader in managing and analyzing big data has grown over the past year as the Institute has worked with private and public partners to bring more genomic and health data to the cloud.
June 9, 2016
TORONTO, CANADA (June 9, 2016) — In today’s Science, the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) calls for a federated data ecosystem for sharing genomic and clinical data. The authorship, which includes Canadian leaders as well as a diverse team of international leaders in academia, research, medicine, and industry, argues that a common framework of principles, protocols, and interoperable technical systems are necessary to enable responsible and effective data sharing.
November 20, 2015
On October 6, at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, Dr. Tom Hudson, President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, assumed the role of Chair of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) Steering Committee, succeeding Dr. David Altshuler. Altshuler has served as Chair since GA4GH was established in 2013, and will remain as a member of the Steering Committee.
“Just over two years ago, a group of leaders from around the globe came together to enable the responsible sharing of genomic and clinical data. Tom was a key contributor from the start, and with his help, GA4GH has made substantial progress,” Altshuler said. “I cannot think of a better person to lead the Steering Committee.”
The role of the Steering Committee is to make high-level decisions about the direction, values, and working products from the GA4GH. GA4GH is a community of individuals and world-leading organizations working together to create interoperable tools and approaches to enable genomic and clinical data sharing. More information about GA4GH can be found at www.genomicsandhealth.org.
June 10, 2015
Over 250 Leaders Convene at Third Plenary Today to Build on Efforts and Drive Results
LEIDEN, the Netherlands (June 10, 2015) – The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH), an international coalition dedicated to improving human health by maximizing the potential of genomic medicine, marked its second anniversary this month. Today, more than 250 GA4GH Members are coming together in the Netherlands to collaborate on the development of innovative, integrated solutions that promote genomic and clinical data sharing, and the creation of a global learning system in genomic medicine.
Since its inception in June 2013, GA4GH has grown to include over 320 organizations across 32 countries and made important progress to unite and guide the field. Members include world leaders in healthcare, research, patient and disease advocacy, life science, and information technology. More than 700 individuals around the globe are actively developing dozens of tools, methods, and approaches to facilitate effective, responsible data sharing.
“Two years ago, we set out to engage a diverse set of leaders around the need to enable responsible sharing of genomic and clinical data. This has developed into a vibrant international effort beyond what we could have imagined when we first came together,” said David Altshuler, MD, PhD, Chair of the GA4GH Steering Committee. “In 2015 our mission is more critical than ever, as we increasingly see genomic information having positive impact on diagnosis, targeting, and development of new medicines.”
At today’s third Plenary Meeting, GA4GH Members are sharing progress on priority tools and projects and discussing ways to promote the use of these interoperable methods to encourage data sharing. Members are focusing on work being done to link existing solutions, emerging areas of interest like e-Health, and issues such as big data challenges and how best to align with major national and institutional efforts arising in genomic medicine.
“The future of medicine requires a collective commitment to developing scalable and interoperable approaches to sharing data,” said Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, Director of the National Institutes of Health. “GA4GH has made important early progress by uniting critical communities, identifying challenge areas, and collaborating on efforts to help the world realize the benefits of genomic data sharing.”
GA4GH Working Groups have already developed products that lay a technical and regulatory foundation for data sharing, including:
- A regulatory Framework to guide the responsible sharing of genomic and health-related data;
- A GA4GH Genomics API to enable the interoperable exchange of data in DNA sequence reads; and
- A Security Infrastructure that recommends policy and technology options for the ecosystem.
“The world is on the verge of an explosion in genomic data. If we fail to effectively navigate this rocky terrain, we will miss a tremendous opportunity to enable a new era of medical discovery and delivery,” said Tom Hudson, newly announced Chair-Elect of the GA4GH Steering Committee and President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. “GA4GH has not only brought critical communities to the table, but is showing the results of what happens when these diverse leaders combine their experiences and work together.”
“Health systems around the world must turn into learning systems that responsibly share information—we owe it to every citizen in the world to do this right,” said Eric Lander, Founding Director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. “GA4GH has taken critical steps to ensure that we unlock the transformational power of genomic medicine.”
GA4GH Members are now building off early foundational products. New Consent and Privacy and Security Policies released this week follow the guidelines and principles of the regulatory Framework. GA4GH recently developed a catalogue of current activities in eHealth and in April, a beta Reference Implementation for the Genomics API was released. Finally, a “data sharing start-up kit” is underway which will include downloadable APIs and reference implementations, as well as polices and standards necessary to implement them responsibly.
“GA4GH tools facilitate interoperability and allow researchers and clinicians to tap the power of genomic data on a global scale, while ensuring participants feel secure that their interests are protected,” explained David Haussler, Chair of the GA4GH Data Working Group and Scientific Director of the Genomics Institute at UC Santa Cruz. “No one of our Member organizations is in the position to provide every tool that is needed, but together we can really move the needle.”
“We started the Global Alliance two years ago to address current barriers to genomic and clinical data sharing before they became entrenched,” said Bartha Knoppers, Chair of the GA4GH Regulatory and Ethics Working Group and Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy at McGill University. “We are working to guide the responsible sharing of genomic and health-related data around the world based on a human rights approach.”
Several projects advanced by GA4GH act as testing grounds and demonstrate immediate, real-world value:
- A global BRCA Challenge to merge and accelerate efforts to interpret BRCA 1 and 2 variants, holding its inaugural meeting June 12-13 at UNESCO in Paris co-organised by the Human Variome Project;
- Matchmaker Exchange, a project designed to help patients and doctors grappling with rare genotypes and phenotypes to find one another through a federated network of databases; and
- The Beacon Project, which tests the willingness of institutions to share data internationally and now includes over 250 datasets across 15 institutions, including the GA4GH Beacon Network.
“Right now consortia around the world are collecting genomic sequence data, but many efforts are happening in parallel, not in concert,” said Michael Stratton, Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. “The Global Alliance is providing packaged, workable solutions and engaging with large-scale data collection and sharing programs around the world.”
“If we don’t ensure data interoperability now, within a few years it’s going to be too late,” said Kathryn North, Vice-Chair of the GA4GH Steering Committee and Director of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. “We must all work together to realize the potential of genomic research, reveal the underlying causes of genetic disorders, and transform the way individuals are treated and diagnosed.”
A Road Map produced in early 2015 lays out specific near-term goals for GA4GH. These goals align with the Global Alliance’s vital initial mission and will guide today’s Plenary Meeting.
The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health is an international, non-profit alliance formed to help accelerate the potential of genomic medicine to advance human health. Bringing together over 300 leading organizations working in healthcare, research, disease and patient advocacy, life science, and information technology, GA4GH Members are working together to create a common framework of tools, methods, and harmonized approaches and supporting demonstration projects to enable the responsible, voluntary, and secure sharing of genomic and clinical data. Learn more at: http://genomicsandhealth.org.