Rancho BioSciences is taking its data curation and services to the bank – the NIH NeuroBioBank.
On Aug. 30, the Rancho Bernardo-based company announced it had been awarded a contract with Digital Infuzion, Inc., in support of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to curate and integrate data and metadata associated with the NIH NeuroBioBank (NBB) – a federally-funded program established in 2013 as a resource for investigators utilizing human post-mortem brain tissue and related biospecimens for their research to understand conditions of the nervous system.
The goal of the award is to make all NBB data compliant with FAIR (findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability) data principles. Rancho BioSciences CEO Julie Bryant likened the task to organizing a library.
“Right now the library books are all there, just all jumbled up and difficult to find, and some of the pages are misaligned as well,” she said. “Rancho’s job is to clean and integrate the data for this project.”
Due to the growing cases of neurological disease in the population, researchers are now looking to large data sets to gain insight into these diseases quickly. The NNB’s large collection of high-quality, human post-mortem brain biospecimens is a critical step and great resource for them.
Power of Data
“When data is integrated properly, it makes it easier to find for researchers that are working with it,” Bryant said. “When data is easier to find, researchers can find drugs and treatments faster, thereby potentially saving lives through data. We are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the neurodegenerative data community and make a difference.”
Rancho BioSciences is currently working with the neuropathology reports prepared by pathologists when a person with a neurodegenerative disease dies. In these reports, the pathologist describes what was seen during an examination of the brain under a microscope and notes any abnormal features in the brain of the patient.
“The goal of the project is to convert these reports in a machine-readable format and extract all the data. This data then can be used to find associations between patient’s gene or disease symptoms and brain pathologies,” Bryant said, adding that this part of the project is “just the beginning.”
“There are other data types such as biomarkers and physiological data that we hope to expand this into, allowing for broader questions to be asked,” she continued. “Rancho works with all kinds of data across all therapeutic areas. This includes assays, flow, tox, safety, genomics, GWAS, phenotype, clinical and much more.”
Looking To Hire
The amount of the NBB project award to Rancho BioSciences was not disclosed, but 100% percent of the total costs of the project will be financed with federal money under a federal contract with Digital Infuzion, Inc. – a Rockville, Maryland-based biomedical and scientific informatics solutions provider with expertise in biology, medicine and technology.
To meet the demands of the project, Bryant said Rancho is planning on hiring 20 more scientists and developers over the next two months who are “passionate about saving lives though data.”
“We hope that this project can elevate this data so that researchers can find treatments and cures for these horrible neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, ALS and Alzheimer’s that affect us or the people we know and love,” she said.
The additional scientists and developers are needed not only for the NNB project, but also for another initiative Rancho spearheaded back in May – the Single Cell Data Science (SCDS) pre-competitive consortium.
The SCDS is a three-year effort supported in collaboration with charter members Bristol Myers Squibb, Janssen Research & Development, Novartis and Vesalius Therapeutics to find a common industry standard around how single cell datasets are created and formatted by a systematic effort to develop data models and ensure that public data are curated in a consistent way.
CEO: Julie Bryant
Headquarters: San Diego, Rancho Bernardo
Business: Privately held company offering services for data curation, management and analysis for companies engaged in pharmaceutical research and development
Notable: In May, Rancho BioSciences spearheaded a consortium with major pharmaceutical companies to standardize how single cell datasets are created and formatted.