This innovative software is being developed to improve early diagnosis, prevention and prognosis of cancer by linking critical environmental exposures that contribute to cancer risk to genetic variations, adverse behaviors and lifestyle. As these different exposures leave genetic “footprints” in the genome, we hope a healthcare provider can customize treatment by selecting drugs and regimens that specifically and selectively addresses the causes of damage to the genome of the individual patient.
The software is a standards based, visual query platform to support population health management and assessments of health disparities and risks. UserGateWay software is being developed by MIHGH scientists in partnership with Persistent Systems Ltd, India and Persistent Systems Inc, US. The software overlays geographic features of the natural environment, manmade toxins, and clinical data within specific windows of exposure. It also extend biobanking functionality by adding environmental exposure information to biologic and genomic datasets derived from tumor tissue and blood of subjects with cancer
- Adheres to caBIG standards.
- Aligns with ISBER Biospecimen Best Practices.
- Exceeds or meets NAACCR GIS Practices.
- Open source, freeware technology stack
- Web-based application interface
- Enables attribute, spatial, temporal, and spatiotemporal queries
- Supports common data interfacing/exchange mechanisms
Clinical System support is provided by Medical decisions Logic, Baltimore, MD and Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, Brewer, ME. This work was funded by US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command research contract USAMRMC No. 0704400, PI JM Hock.
Biobank & UserGateWay Team
- Janet M Hock, BDS, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator: JM Hock, BDS, Ph.D. with co-investigator C Farah, Ph.D. and Clinical Research Project Coordinator, Ms D Morrison
Janet M Hock, BDS, Ph.D. Principal Investigator brings an unusual mix of career experiences and scientific executive expertise to her work. She directs multidisciplinary environmental oncology and community-based participatory research programs in Maine that included creation of an innovative BioGeoBank, integrating information from a cancer tissue repository with geographic information system (GIS) and genomic technologies to map behavioral and environmental exposures linked to health risks. Her group is developing UserGateWay software to support new models of health risk assessment in humans exposed to combinations of environmental exposures.
Janet M Hock, BDS, Ph.D.
“We must conceive of stewardship not simply as one individual’s practice, but rather as the mutual and intimate relationship extending across generations, between a human community and its place on earth” J Elder. 1997.
Our first donor asked MIHGH to conduct research to improve the health of people in Maine. In response, we mapped respiratory diseases and cancers, analyzed data from cancer subjects participating in our biobank research, learnt how to conduct community-based participatory research with our Eastport and UMaine partners, and mentored students. I feel great respect and gratitude to the people, businesses and state agencies in Maine’s rural communities for supporting the work of MIHGH. They have helped us understand the “mutual and intimate relationship extending across generations, between a human community and its place on earth” in their desire to improve the health of the next generation through research on the health risks of their generation .
- Christopher Farah, Ph.D.
Christopher Farah, Ph.D.
The original team working on radon exposure maps of Maine, from the left: Student intern: Amelia Neally, Wellesley College; Eleanor Lacombe, Clinical Research Associate and Peter Rand, Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Portland, ME; Professor CT Hess, Ph.D., U Maine; E Melanie Lanctot, Office of Substance Abuse, Maine DHHS; Project Leader: Chris Farah, MIHGH; and Keith R Brown, Criterium-Brown Engineers, Washburn, ME
Christopher Farah will join The Polis Center and Center for Health Geographics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as a postdoctoral fellow in April 2012.
He received a B.Eng. in Chemical Engineering from The Cooper Union, a M.A. in Mathematics from St. Louis University and a Ph.D. from the Department of Spatial Information Science and Engineering, University of Maine. Christopher successfully completed a National Science Foundation IGERT Research Traineeship under the guidance of his Ph.D. advisor, Michael Worboys. The focus of Christopher’s dissertation was the formal design and computer evaluation of a distributed event-detection algorithm using concepts from algebraic topology and graph theory. The findings were published in journal IET Wireless Sensor Systems.
Under the mentorship of Janet M. Hock, B.D.S., Ph.D., senior investigator, Christopher has been a spatial statistics lead on GIS projects in the health informatics sector, at Maine Institute for Human Genetics and Health. Spatial autocorrelation methods have been employed to compute disease clusters and identify associations between these clusters and environmental risk factors. Christopher has also been involved in developing a GIS-enabled, web-based cancer informatics software application, User Gateway, with his mentor. Christopher’s role in the project has included writing the system specification, formulating use cases with stakeholder input, co-developing the database schema, guiding technology stack selection, creating mock-up interfaces, deploying and testing software iterations, and generally acting as a liaison between internal and external systems and non-systems stakeholders.
During his postdoctoral appointment, Christopher will marry his mathematics and information systems backgrounds to support a broad-scale public health project.
He and The Polis Center at IUPUI will continue to collaborate with Dr. Hock on UserGateWay software.
- Deborah Morrison
Clinical Research Project Coordinator, BioGeoBank
Ms. Morrison is interested in participant recruitment for clinical studies and specializes in high risk individuals and families with health disparities. Excellent communication skills and relationship building are utilized to help patients understand the value of research participation. Deborah works with Dr. Hock to complete quality control and assurance of all specimens and data collected from cancer patients in the BioGeoBank. This work was reported at the 2012 NCI Biobanking Research Network symposium. Ms. Morrison has also worked with Dr. Hayes to recruit opiate-dependent pregnant women into an NIH-funded research study. She is currently completing her MA degree at the University of Maine under the mentorship of Dr. Hayes. Her thesis work reports on the incidence of ocular abnormalities in opiate-exposed infants.