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Heritage-DREAM, National Cancer Institute Breast Cancer Network Inference Prize Announced

SAN FRANCISCO, April 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Heritage Provider Network (HPN), The National Cancer Institute, Sage Bionetworks and DREAM today announced the Heritage-DREAM Breast Cancer Network Inference Challenge. The prize contest uses big data to develop more effective treatments for breast cancer, and was featured at the Sage Bionetworks Commons Congress in San Francisco, California. (


Sponsored by HPN and the NCI Division of Cancer Biology, the goal of the prize is to challenge data scientists to find ways to quickly and effectively increase our understanding of signaling cellular pathways in breast cancer.

"This is our first prize challenge to foster innovations in breast cancer research," said Dr. Richard Merkin , President and CEO of Heritage Provider Network. "Hopefully, our  understanding of how these signaling pathways are deregulated in cancer cells will lead to a better understanding of how cancer cells are wired," he continued.  "Currently, we don't have the maps needed to guide our efforts. This challenge can provide those key maps, allowing effective treatment therapies to be accelerated, savings lives and millions of dollars."

"It is a privilege to be able to count the Heritage Provider Network as a partner in this important effort to unravel the networks that are deregulated in breast cancer. The challenge format will help discover new biology in an accelerated way, as dozens of participants working on the same data for 4 months can achieve what a single group would achieve in many years," said Gustavo Stolovitzky, co-founder of The DREAM Project.

"Cancer remains one of the most daunting and important challenges for the medical research community.  While tremendous progress has been made in its understanding and management, the personal and societal losses remain huge.  Biomedical research remains the key to future progress and cures for all diseases including cancer," said Dan Gallahan , Deputy Director, DCB, National Cancer Institute. "The NCI remains committed to supporting that research but recognizes the need for new approaches and innovations in how that research is advanced.  That is why we are very pleased to have participated in the development of this Heritage-DREAM Breast Cancer Network Inference Challenge.

This challenge utilizes the power of crowdsourcing to address some of the fundamental issues of how breast cancer cells function, allowing for more directed and precise treatment.  Crowdsourcing has proven to be an important mechanism to broaden the community of researchers focused on cancer related issues," Gallahan continued. "Heritage Provider Network (HPN) is an early adopter of challenges, having already engaged in some of the most ambitious challenges to date.  We are very pleased and grateful for the insight and support by HPN and its CEO, Dr. Richard Merkin , in this important endeavor. We look forward to future interactions as we continue the struggle against cancer."

Sage Bionetworks and DREAM are running the prize challenge.

The Heritage DREAM Breast Cancer Network Inference Challenge is one of a number of competitions Dr. Merkin is sponsoring in HPN's ongoing efforts to spur innovations that improve quality and reduce inefficiencies in healthcare.

Heritage Provider Network, Inc. (HPN) is on the cutting edge of the accountable care model of healthcare delivery: coordinated, patient-doctor centric, integrated health care systems that represent the future of health care in the United States. HPN and its affiliates operate in California, New York and Arizona providing high quality, cost effective healthcare to over 700,000 individuals and are dedicated to quality, affordable health care and putting patients' wellness first. (

The Dialogue on Reverse Engineering Assessment and Methods Project (DREAM Project), founded in 2006 by Andrea Califano (Columbia University) and Gustavo Stolovitzky (IBM), was originally conceived as an initiative to advance the nascent field of network biology through the organization of Challenges on network reconstruction and pathway inference. Since the first set of network inference challenges of 2007 (DREAM2) the concept of using collaborative-competitions as a vehicle to carry on a meaningful dialogue in the computational biology community has evolved significantly.  Earlier this year, DREAM merged its open science efforts with that of Sage Bionetworks.

Sage Bionetworks is a nonprofit biomedical research organization, founded in 2009, with a vision to promote innovations in personalized medicine by enabling a community-based approach to scientific inquiries and discoveries.  Sage Bionetworks strives to activate patients and to incentivize scientists, funders and researchers to work in fundamentally new ways in order to shape research, accelerate access to knowledge and transform human health.  It is located on the campus of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington and is supported through a portfolio of philanthropic donations, competitive research grants, and commercial partnerships.

SOURCE Heritage Provider Network, Inc.
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