The Indianapolis-based Walther Cancer Foundation says it will invest $11 million to advance collaborative cancer research at Indiana University and Purdue University by supporting scientists through bioinformatics.
Bioinformatics involves managing and analyzing the massive amounts of data generated by scientific research.
“We hope this gift enables scientists at IU and Purdue to dig more deeply and refine their studies so they can point out new pathways to good patient outcomes in cancer,” said Tom Grein, president and chief executive officer of the Walther Cancer Foundation.
Grein says sometimes researchers have so much data, it’s hard to comprehend where it’s leading their work.
Income from the new bioinformatics fund will continuously support bioinformatics personnel, technology, and other tools shared by the cancer research programs at both universities.
“The genetic, biochemical, cellular and immune pathways that can lead to cancer are extraordinarily complex and intertwined,” said Dr. Kelvin Lee, who was just named the new director of the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We are fortunate that the Walther Cancer Foundation understands that breakthroughs require the expertise and the tools, like artificial intelligence, to help us analyze all this data so we can understand what’s really important.”
The IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center has approximately 250 cancer researchers. Purdue’s Center for Cancer Research has more than 110 researchers.
“Each of them has different capabilities, different levels of expertise, different interests,” Grein said. “But when you get scientists to collaborate, the outcomes are better.”
The foundation says it has previously supported cancer bioinformatics at the universities on a year-to-year basis, but this new gift establishes a fund that will ensure the bioinformatics work on a more permanent basis.
“This continuing partnership, plus our own investments and fundraising, will secure what we’ve already established and enable us to grow into the future,” said Timothy Ratliff, the Robert Wallace Miller Director of the Purdue Center for Cancer Research.