HMS LINCS Breast Cancer Browser

Harvard Medical School

Enabling researchers to investigate breast cancer biology and drug response through exploratory visualizations.

See it Live

Challenge

The Harvard Medical School LINCS database contains a multitude of studies on how various cancer cell lines react to different chemical perturbagens like drugs. Linking together the results of these studies to discover relationships and prove theories is a difficult task, but a critical need for researchers in the field. Our goal was to design and build an interface that allowed for interactive visual exploration of these datasets side by side, and highlight connections between them, allowing a variety of different types of studies to be queried and reasoned about as a single unit of insightful information.

Solution

The Bocoup data visualization team worked with Dr. Sorger’s Lab at Harvard Medical School to develop the Breast Cancer Browser: an online tool for exploring and visualizing the results of a multitude of different experiments focused on how various breast cancer cell lines respond to a number of different perterbagens. With this tool, researchers can access published and unpublished datasets to find connections among different drugs or different cancer cell lines in a single unified manner.

While this initial tool focused on breast cancer studies, there is potential for using the same integrated approach for a much larger subset of the underlying LINCS datasets.

Impact

The Cancer Browser tool is a first-of-its-kind interactive tool, connecting disparate datasets with the goal of revealing connections in these significant datasets. Its exploratory nature supports researchers and clinicians who aim to better understand the nature of breast cancer and the efficacy of the drugs available to fight it.

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