Cancer is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality not just here in Florida, or in the United States, but globally. Florida itself is the U.S. state with the second-largest cancer burden, charting at 110,000 cases reported each year. While cancer research has progressed greatly in recent decades, such as treatments such as thyroid and prostate cancer proving to be highly successful, there are still many forms of cancer that remain very problematic, with ineffective treatments and high morbidity and mortality. These include cancers such as liver, lung, brain, esophageal, and ovarian variants. In order to combat this, new approaches and strides must be taken with modern cancer research.

The state of Florida features some of the nation’s top cancer research institutions and hospitals, including the Moffitt Cancer Center, the top-ranked cancer hospital in Florida, and the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center (SCCC). However, while Florida’s cancer research and treatment resources are impressive, the state lacks coordination among these resources to enable novel research that avoids duplication of efforts and promotes efficiency. For example, extensive, well-organized, harmonized, and deeply annotated data is needed for cutting-edge cancer research strategies including Machine Learning and taking advantage of Big Data, the analysis of which through computational strategies rooted in data science and bioinformatics, has spawned many important developments in cancer research.

We propose to establish a cancer research network, the Florida Cancer Research (CARES) Network, across 6 leading Florida-based cancer research institutions, as well as expand the existing Sylvester Data Portal bioinformatics infrastructure that has been developed at the University of Miami and the associated SCCC. This will all culminate into what we’re calling the Florida Platform for Accelerating Collaborative and Computational Cancer Research, or, “PAC3R” (Pronounced PACER”). This first-of-its-kind statewide computational cancer research collaboration network and associated bioinformatics platform will enable Florida cancer researchers to easily access the shared resources, facilitating efficient developments in cancer treatments to reduce morbidity and mortality among Floridians. Additionally, the administrative and computational
infrastructures of the proposed Florida CARES Network and its PAC3R platform could serve as the basis of a nationwide collaborative cancer research network, enabling Florida to become the leader in innovative collaborative computational cancer research.