Interview: Veterans Affairs Precision Oncology Project

BioData World Congress USA

Our supporting partner DNAdigest got in touch with one of our speakers at BioData World Congress– Louis Fiore, doctor, scientist, manager, innovator at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in Boston Massachusetts, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center (MAVERIC). Louis will be speaking about the Precision Oncology Project at BioData World Congress USA 2016.

We want to share some snippets of the interview and you will be able to access the full interview below.

1. Could you please tell us about your background and your role at VA?

I’ve been working for VA for almost 36 years. The department of VA takes care of approximately 20 million people, who served in the Armed Forces and are now retired. VA has a network of more than 150 hospitals across the country, they provide all types of healthcare services to veterans. VA has three missions: 1) care for veterans; 2) educate the next generation of healthcare providers; 3) provide research opportunities to improve healthcare of veterans first, and of the greater community as well.

The group that I run, MAVERIC, has over 140 employees and works across four divisions: epidemiology and data mining, clinical trials, biobanking, and informatics. We have three national profile projects:Million Veteran Program (MVP), Point of Care Clinical Trial (POCCT) program, and Precision Oncology Program (POP)

2. At BioData World Congress USA 2016 you will be presenting the Precision Oncology Program. Could you tell us more about its history, aims and implementation?

Yes, this is our third program and it takes the lessons learnt from the first two – MVP and POCCT – so let me first briefly introduce these two programs.

At MVP, we are enrolling up to one million veterans into a genomic cohort where they agree for us to access and share their medical data from the electronic health record (EHR) and case report form data, and they also allow us to access their DNA. We are currently performing microarray analysis and we have also performed some whole genome and whole exome sequencing. In this project, we analyse germline mutations, not somatic mutations. The purpose of that is strictly to do research, discovery, and validation of important associations between mutations and health or disease or response to treatment. All these resources are aggregated and are available to intramural and soon, to extramural researchers. We have enrolled almost half a million participants, so about 50% of the way to completion of the project.

The second national program that we are executing is the Point of Care Clinical Trial program. Simply stated, this program is there to perform comparable effectiveness randomised clinical trials within the clinical ecosystem, thus eliminating the need for a parallel world of research staff and equipment to conduct clinical trials. In this model, as patients are cared for in the healthcare system, they are offered opportunities to seek treatment on a randomised basis. If they agree to that, we collect data from the healthcare system databases to assess whether a randomised intervention was successful or not, which randomised intervention is superior to the other. The questions we can study in this fashion involve products that are already in use and where the toxicity is well known. It cannot be done for Phase I, II or III studies but is highly effective for Phase IV studies.


Interview with Bob Rogers

Would you like to meet Louis and his peers to discuss the most pressing issues in your organisation? Attend HNC’s BioData World Congress USA on 14-15 September 2016 at Hyatt Regency Boston.