Oracle News | December 5, 2016

Oracle Invests in Childhood Cancer Research

By: Robert Preston | Editorial Director


Oracle is investing AU$140,000 (US$105,000) in two big data research projects: one using visual analytics to interpret data gleaned from the treatment of children with cancer, and the other using virtual and augmented reality to make large-scale visual analytics more accessible to non-technical professionals.

Both projects are being conducted by Western Sydney University’s School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics in Australia.

Visual analytics help researchers gain insights into complex problems by combining the vast processing and storage capabilities of computers with visual interfaces that are more intuitive for people who aren’t data scientists. “Rather than having users try to decipher reports or dashboards, visual analytics can add a new dimension and help users gain new and different insights from data more quickly,” says Robert Spinks, Oracle senior director, big data integration and analytics.

The first tranche of Oracle funding will enable a two-year extension of a research study titled “Enabling Effective Clinical Decisions with Visual Analytics,” which is currently supported by a grant from the Cancer Institute of New South Wales.

The cure rates for childhood cancers have improved dramatically thanks to technology and research advances, but “there is still a lot more that needs to be done,” says Dr. Quang Vinh Nguyen, senior lecturer at the Western Sydney school.

The human genome, Nguyen notes, comprises thousands of genes containing information about individual patients and the biological mechanisms of their diseases. “By combining genetic information with clinical data and using data visualization techniques to break down that complexity, this research seeks to find new ways to battle childhood cancers with cutting-edge discoveries that are safe, less toxic, and more effective,” he says.

The second research project will investigate the use of virtual reality and augmented reality tools and techniques in the deployment of large-scale visual analytics projects.

“Today’s knowledge-driven society generates a vast amount of data,” Nguyen says. “Ordinary analysis methods quickly become inadequate as the data size and complexity increase. This research will focus on how an immersive visual data analytics experience can be enabled by utilizing newly introduced technologies in the areas of virtual reality, augmented reality, or both.”

This new project is open to PhD students, with applications closing in June 2017.

Editorial Director

Rob Preston is editorial director in Oracle's Content Central organization, where he provides insights and analysis on a range of issues important to CIOs and other business technology executives. Rob was previously editor in chief of InformationWeek. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @robpreston.

More about Robert Preston