Susan G. Komen Convenes Second Symposium to Leverage Big Data in the Fight against Breast Cancer

Leading Experts Discuss Data Infrastructure, Latest Advances in Research Using Big Data, and Potential for Patients

MENLO PARK, Calif.--()--Globally recognized leaders in technology, bioethics, genomics, oncology and patient advocacy – convened by the Susan G. Komen breast cancer organization – are gathering here today to drive breast cancer research and improve treatment through the power of Big Data.

Komen’s Big Data for Breast Cancer – West Coast conference is the second symposium convened by the breast cancer organization in hopes of channeling Big Data into better breast cancer care.

“We are working for multidisciplinary collaborations that can help us apply Big Data to improve breast cancer treatment and outcomes,” said Komen Chief Scientific Advisor Dr. George Sledge of Stanford University. “Together, we plan to identify opportunities to work together on the very promising but complicated use of Big Data.”

Big Data applications could lead to greater opportunities and ways to improve the focus and, hopefully, speed of research in finding answers to improve how patients feel, function and survive. The symposium brings together experts in oncology research, genomics, bioethics, patient advocacy and Big Data analytics, and is funded with generous support from the Robertson Foundation.

Attendees hope the symposium brings to light some challenges that exist in advancing the role of Big Data in breast cancer research and care as well as ways to pivot existing technology to address these challenges.

“We can use Big Data to collect information from sources such as electronic health records to answer complicated questions about the efficacy and safety of drug combinations, to understand how effective drugs are approved by the FDA, and much more. But oncology data is complex, so in order to derive insights from these large data sets, we need robust infrastructure and data quality standards,” said Dr. Amy Abernethy, Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of Oncology at Flatiron Health.

Development of the conference was guided by a planning committee including:

  • Dr. Amy Abernethy, Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of Oncology, Flatiron Health
  • Cheryl Jernigan, Komen Advocate in Science and Scientific Advisory Board
  • Dr. Mia Levy, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center; Komen Scholar
  • Dr. George Sledge, Stanford University; Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor
  • Dr. Crystal Valentine, Vice President of Technology Strategy, MapR Technologies
  • Dr. Nikhil Wagle, The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

“Komen has long served as a convener to improve the lives of those facing breast cancer,” said Ellen Willmott, Komen’s Interim President and Chief Executive Officer. “We see the potential of Big Data to significantly improve the pace of research, while also improving treatment and outcomes for breast cancer patients today.”

Today’s conference addresses three critical areas:

  1. Data Infrastructure: What are the best practices to ensure data can be shared, integrated and analyzed for multiple purposes?
  2. Research: What are the latest advances in research using Big Data? How can Big Data drive breast cancer research?
  3. Clinical Applications: How can we harness Big Data to provide the solutions needed to improve patient outcomes and overcome the challenges faced by breast cancer patients?

“Big Data holds so much promise,” Willmott said. “This conference will be a blueprint and a direction to guide the next phase of Komen’s work.”

By continuing to facilitate these discussions, Komen is working to create an international community capable of advancing the application of these data to improve breast cancer research and clinical care. Creating such a community is vital to Komen’s Bold Goal of reducing current breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2026.

About Susan G. Komen®

Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit outside of the federal government while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded more than $920 million in research and provided more than $2 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs serving millions of people in more than 30 countries worldwide. Komen was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life. Visit or call 1-877 GO KOMEN. Connect with us on social at

About the Robertson Foundation

The Robertson Foundation aspires to utilize a pro-active, disciplined grant-making approach to measurably affect significant social change in the principal areas of education, the environment, and medical research. To learn more visit:


Susan G. Komen
Joni Avery, 972-855-4382


Susan G. Komen
Joni Avery, 972-855-4382