U A B C O M P R E H E N S I V E C A N C E R C E N T E R 5

by one of the division’s engineering Ph.D. students. The genera-

tor will call external informatics tools that calculate cancer risk

and recurrence, alongside the more conventional generation of

reports noting the number of patients seen, the types of cancers

treated and other pertinent data points.

“The Web is becoming like a universal hard disk where we can

query for the information and data that will inform the algo-

rithms that are used on the clinical side,” says Rob Hackney,

M.D., who works in the division. “This is where things are going.”

While the field of informatics apps—social medicine, as it is

sometimes called—is relatively young, it is rapidly growing. More

than 17,000 apps are available that are designed for medical use,

as well as hundreds of Web sites that compile and store data for

statistical purposes. With an informatics division already up and

running, UAB is ahead of the field.

“We’re at the cutting edge of an emerging academic discipline,”

Dr. Almeida says. “Our division is a groundbreaker.”

An Example of Research Success

The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center’s success in translational research—the process of moving research findings from the laboratory into the clinical setting—is evident in drugs like the Hodgkin’s lymphoma drug known as SGN-35.

When the Cancer Center conducted the phase 1 trial of the drug to establish a maximum tolerated dose, tests showed beneficial effects in stopping tumor growth with only moderate side effects. Even at that early stage, the results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. “We were pleased to discover that positive responses were observed in 17 of the 45 patients involved in the study, including 11 complete remissions,” says Andres Forero, M.D., a Cancer Center senior scientist and a senior author of the study. He also noted that tumor regression was observed in 36 of the 42 patients who could be evaluated, and the duration of response to the drug lasted more than nine months.

The benefits of treatment at a comprehensive cancer center such as UAB often include access to therapies that are unavailable elsewhere— such as SGN-35. Sabrina Gilreath, a resident of Summerville, Georgia, was the first person in the United States to receive SGN-35 when she came to the Cancer Center for treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008. It was a last resort—one that saved her life.



42 had tumor regression

had complete remissions


http://the next generation of cancer research_uab_informatics_almeida