Cancer Research Informatics and Services Core
The Cancer Research Informatics and Services (CRIS) Core was developed to automate personnel-intensive manual methods for data acquisition, integration and processing through the use of novel informatics systems that support and enhance research activities across VCU Massey Cancer Center. The CRIS Core utilizes four sets of novel cancer informatics software tools and the associated supporting infrastructure to provide necessary services used extensively by Massey researchers. These tools include the Massey Cancer Center Information System (MCCIS), the Automated Cancer Extraction (ACE) application, Clinical Trials Eligibility Database (CTED) and the clinical research data management system (Oncore®). These data and software systems were designed and implemented to meet the informatics and data needs of clinical, basic and population science investigators. The functions of the CRIS Core include data integration, pre-study patient identification for clinical research and custom and standardized report and data set generation used in cohort discovery, grant submission and clinical annotation for tissue and outcomes research.
The CRIS Core has focused on the development and support of clinical informatics to a) directly address through automation limitations experienced by investigators and research staff in accessing and processing the data required for evaluating patients for studies, b) integrate, process and store large volumes of disparate clinical data that is not feasible through traditional manual methods, but is essential for performing research; and c) consolidate and link these data in systems that are accessible and useful to investigators. The CRIS Core is closely integrated with the Tissue and Data Acquisition and Analysis Core (TDAAC) and the Clinical Research Shared Resource Core (CRSR).
Figure 1 summarizes the functionality and relationships between the four software components that include: the UDS, MCCIS, ACE, CTED and Oncore®. The data used by these applications come from multiple VCU electronic sources and from primary data collected by research staff.
The core has developed automated processes [CTED and the Automated Matching Tool (AMT)] that provide essential support to clinical and other research. A key feature of the automation inherent in these tools is the consolidation and use of discrete data such as billing and clinical laboratory test results with information extracted from text documents such as surgical pathology reports, radiology reports, discharge summaries and other clinical notes. Data are annotated and stored in the UDS and subsequently linked, processed and maintained at the patient level within the component applications as appropriate. The availability of these integrated patient-level data through the CRIS Core enable Massey investigators and research staff to efficiently and quickly access the information required in support of their research. CRIS Core applications have been developed with consideration given to the extensibility, transportability and generalizability of the components.