The University of Auckland

Project #42: Data storage and visualisation tools for modern cancer drug development



The Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre (ACSRC) is a world leading facility developing new anticancer chemotherapeutics. Modern cancer therapy research produces enormous amounts of data with potentially thousands of chemicals to be screened against thousands of genes, enzymes and other proteins. We maintain data on drugs from the early stages of chemical synthesis (precursors) and active compounds right through screening against enzymes and cells to advanced pre-clinical testing. Historically, experimental data has been fragmented and stored in a number of spreadsheets and files. To remedy this, we have recently started development of a "chemically aware" structured database using proprietary software which can search chemical structures. However, the data being stored is typically unstructured, and so a different database design may be preferable. This project will develop a tool using a new database design and a user-friendly web-based front-end to help chemists record the results of experiments, generate summaries and visualisations of the data, and view chemical structures.  ACSRC senior research fellows (Dr Kevin Hicks and Dr Ben Dickson) will act as advisors on this project.


The outcomes of this project are:
1. Research and design an appropriate architecture for the proposed tool, including libraries for visualising and editing chemical structures
2. Research and develop custom software to dynamically extract key project-specific drug parameters and present summary information in a user friendly format
3. Evaluate the usability of the tool compared to the existing solution


Databases (some knowledge of Oracle may be useful to understand existing solutions)
Use of Excel macros and VBA tools to import and export data from existing platform
Only minimal knowledge of chemistry or biology is required: understanding what we are trying to achieve in efficiently developing anticancer drugs is more important.






Allocated (Not available for preferences)


Lab allocations have not been finalised