Public Data for Cancer Prevention and Control Challenge Moving to Phase II!

Wil Yu | November 16, 2011

This summer, ONC’s Investing in Innovation program (i2), in partnership with National Cancer Institute, launched the “Using Public Data for Cancer Prevention and Control: From Innovation to Impact” challenge, and we were very pleased with the quality of the entries that were submitted.

The Challenge: Create applications to creatively address issues faced by patients or professionals at some point on the cancer control continuum, by making use of available public data and potentially integrating with existing technology.

At the end of the first phase of the challenge, which closed in late August, the judging panel selected four semi-finalist teams from 13 submissions, which received a $10,000 prize each and the opportunity to demo their apps at the Health 2.0 Fall Conference in September. The semi-finalists, who have now moved on to Phase II of the challenge, are:

  • Ask Dory! – submitted by Chintan Patel (PhD), Sharib Khan (MD, MA, MPH), and Aamir Hussain (BS).  Relying on data from and making use of an entropy-based decision tree algorithm, “Ask Dory” helps patients find clinical trial investigators near them. A functional demo is available at
  • My Cancer Genome – submitted by Mia Levy (MD/PhD). “My Cancer Genome,” which is operational at, annotates the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) physician data query clinical trial registry data set with information on genes being evaluated in therapeutic clinical trials, and uses this information to provide therapeutic options based on the patient’s tumor gene mutations.
  • Health Owl – submitted by Michael Diefenbach (PhD) and Kevin Durr.  Using data from the NCI’s physician data query clinical trial registry, from Medline+, and from, “Health Owl” aims to make cancer-screening and its decision-making process simple and reliable by providing tailored recommendations based on recorded family history and demographic variables. A video demo is available at
  • Cancer App by mHealth Solutions – submitted by Ralph Passarella (MD/PhD candidate).  The mHealth Solutions Cancer App makes use of data from NCI, the National Toxicology Report, the SEER database, and other sources to provide individuals with easily comprehensible, personalized strategies for reducing cancer risk. This app would leverage public information to empower users to take their health into their own hands. Check out the video demo.

During Phase II, the semi-finalists’ apps will be judged on their:

  • Use of cancer-related data;
  • Potential to impact the continuum of cancer prevention and control;
  • Integration, potential or actual, with existing technology platforms;
  • Innovative approach to the challenge; and
  • Usability and interactive capabilities.

One or two winners will be selected during Phase II judging. They will be awarded a $20,000 prize each and be invited to present their apps at the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences (HICSS).

The quality and innovative approaches of these apps, and all the entries submitted, are a great reminder of the potential of public innovation challenges. By making cancer data and tools available – and, more importantly, by delivering them meaningfully – to patients and providers, we’re helping improve health and quality of life in innovative new ways.

Thanks again to all the teams that entered!