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NIH/NCI 464 – Cloud-Based Multimodal Data Analysis Software for the Cancer Research Data Commons

Fast-Track proposals will be accepted.

Direct-to-Phase II proposals will be accepted.

Number of anticipated awards: 3-5

Budget (total costs, per award):

Phase I: up to $400,000 for up to 12 months

Phase II: up to $2,000,000 for up to 2 years



The cancer research field has become intensely focused on the generation of high-throughput datasets to better understand cancer and, ultimately, to inform the development of better treatment and prevention tools. NIH and NCI have supported numerous programs, including The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), The Cancer Imaging Archive (TCIA), Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatment (TARGET), Clinical Proteomic Tumor Atlas Consortium (CPTAC), and Human Tumor Atlas Network (HTAN) to generate a wealth of multi-modal data to be leveraged by the cancer research community. However, we are still limited in our ability to draw insights and meaningful interpretations from these datasets, which include multi-omics, imaging, and clinical data, by challenges in integration across disparate datasets. To address these challenges, NCI has created the Cancer Research Data Commons (CRDC) as part of the National Cancer Data Ecosystem recommended by the Cancer MoonshotSM Blue Ribbon Panel. The CRDC brings together data with cloud computing infrastructure to provide secure access to various data types across scientific domains which allows users to analyze, share, and store results by leveraging the storage and elastic compute of the cloud.

This contract topic will support commercial sector participation to develop novel and impactful commercial analytic tools for the cancer research community that integrate CRDC multimodal data. The SBIR contract funding mechanism will offer the opportunity for small businesses to contribute solutions to address unmet challenges of big data analysis that are not currently provided by existing tools in the CRDC through the development of tools and resources that integrate into the rapidly evolving CRDC. Through this contract topic, NCI seeks to enable engagement of the CRDC community by offering enhanced data analysis capabilities, visualization tools, and data access and sharing platforms to enhance users' ability to make data-driven discoveries.

Project Goals

The goal of this contract topic is to provide support for the development and implementation of innovative solutions for continued advancement and evolution of cloud-based multimodal informatics tools to integrate with the CRDC for broader user community engagement. Unmet challenges that should be addressed through this solicitation include but are not limited to:  1) integration of existing tools widely utilized by the cancer research community with the CRDC through adoption of the Data Commons Framework (DCF) and extension of these tools to support unique data analysis opportunities of this platform; 2) development of novel tools that incorporate multimodal (e.g., omics, imaging, spatial omics) datasets; and 3) collaboration with academic developers of popular tools to integrate them with the CRDC and support commercialization. Development and adaptation of tools that support innovative, integrative data analysis (particularly software using machine learning algorithms) across the CRDC are of particular interest. The activities that fall within the scope of this contract topic include delivery of design specifications for the development/extension of informatics tools and demonstration of successful integration of early-phase prototypes with the CRDC. Examples of effective integration with CRDC through DCF include executing the offeror’s pre-existing or new informatics tools on multi-omics and imaging datasets stored in CRDC (such as CPTAC) and performing co-analysis with user-provided data. Successful offerors are expected to develop and implement a business process for broad adoption of their tools and resources by actively engaging with the user communities and conducting outreach and training activities as well as providing appropriate system documentation. The business process should also include business plans for marketing and long-term sustainability, such as sustained hosting of tools, training, and associated resources. 

Activities not responsive to announcement:

Proposals for the development of big data analysis tools without consideration for integration with the CRDC will not be responsive to this solicitation. 

Phase I Activities and Deliverables:

Phase I projects are expected to clearly demonstrate at minimum a ‘proof of concept’ feasibility of adaption of the offeror’s informatics tool(s) or development of new tool(s) to the CRDC through the Data Commons Framework. The proposal should also identify potential barriers for commercial translation and plans to overcome those barriers. Phase I work should include software system specifications of cloud-based platforms for Phase II deployment of the proposed tools and resources. 

Key activities and deliverables include:

  • Project team- establish a project team composed of experts in software development, cloud infrastructure, big data informatics (e.g., proteogenomics, imaging, spatial omics), project management, team communication, and user-centered design. 
  • Design specification for the development/extension of cloud-based informatics tools to operate in the Cancer Research Data Commons.  
  • Develop an early-phase prototype. 
  • Demonstrate the feasibility of CRDC integration through DCF.  Example of feasibility qualification include, but are not limited to, user authentication using Fence to access datasets stored in at least one CRDC repository such as Imaging Data Commons (IDC), Genomic Data Commons (GDC), and Proteomic Data Commons (PDC), which exist now and providing authorization to datasets the user has access to.   
  • Conduct pilot usability testing with at least 25 participating users. 
  • Provide a report on the results of the first round of usability testing and the approach to modify the platform based on this user feedback.
  • Present Phase I findings and demonstrate the functional prototype system to an NCI evaluation panel via webinar. 

Phase II Activities and Deliverables:

Phase II projects will be expected to implement requirements identified in all Phase I deliverables and launch a prototype that demonstrates successful integration with CRDC and, as appropriate, other data commons. The system design process should encourage interactions between users and developers for evaluation and further advancement of the tools and resources. 

Key activities and deliverables include:

  • Enhance, beta test, and finalize prototype development. 
  • Provide detailed plans for implementation of technical assistance and delivery of tool(s) within CRDC. 
  • Demonstrate the tool’s integration with CRDC through DCF by successfully accessing and analyzing data from one or more CRDC nodes. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • Demonstration of integration of user-provided data with a controlled-access data, such as TCGA, to perform comparative analyses. 
    • Access and analysis of data from multiple CRDC nodes. 
  • Conduct usability testing with the participation of at least 100 users. 
  • Provide a report that synthesizes feedback from all relevant categories of end-users, including biomedical researchers and computational scientists, and summarizes the modifications made to the platform after each round of usability testing. 
  • Develop systems documentation and user guides.
  • Develop and implement a business process for broader adoption of tools and resources by actively engaging with the user communities. 
  • Develop business process that includes plans for marketing and long-term sustainability, such as sustained hosting of tools and user training. 
  • Conduct outreach and training activities. 
  • Present Phase II findings and demonstrate the system via a webinar at a time convenient to the offeror and NCI program staff.
  • In the first year of the contract, provide the program and contract officers with a letter(s) of commercial interest.
  • In the second year of the contract, provide the program and contract officers with a letter(s) of commercial commitment.


Receipt date: November 14, 2023, 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time

Apply for this topic on the Contract Proposal Submission (eCPS) website.

For full PHS2024-1 Contract Solicitation, click here

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