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The Cancer Institute NSW Premier's Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research, Big Data, Big Impact Grant Stage 2

Congratulations to Dr Jason Wong, Dr Luke Hesson, A/Professor John Pimanda and Dr Joe Thurbon (Intersect), awarded the Big Data, Big Impact Grant Stage 2.

This team were awarded the inaugural Big Data, Big Impact grant at the 2013 Premier's Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research. This year, they will be awarded Stage 2 funding after a successful Stage 1 spent going where no cancer researchers have gone before.

It has long been understood that mutations that directly alter protein function are associated with cancer, yet regions of that code for proteins make up less than two percent of the human genome. The previously unexplored 'dark matter' portion of the genome makes up the rest. The team set out exploring this 'dark matter' to understand its role in causing cancer.

With the premise that mutations in the 'dark matter' of the human genome are a frequent event that can lead to cancer, the team commenced their research by analysing over 100 terabytes of publically available data. This identified recurrent mutations at key functional non-coding regions in cancer.

Stage 2 of the project will examine the extent these mutations are present. Identification of these mutations will not only provide a better understanding of cancer biology, but can immediately provide new ways to personalise therapy for cancer patients. In the longer term, it may also allow novel drug treatments to be developed for cancer.

See more on the 2014 winners here.