Connecting Research Institutions Across the Country to Advance Cancer Research

Karen Cranston
December 2, 2022

Being able to discover and analyze data across research projects is critical for increasing understanding of human health. Doing so when data sits in different hospitals, provinces, or countries, brings significant technical and policy challenges. The CanDIG platform facilitates sharing of genomic and phenotypic data in light of these challenges.   

With CanDIG installed at multiple locations, research facilities can keep data stored locally in their own instance, while allowing external researchers to discover data across the network through their local CanDIG instance. There is no central data store, and each site can define specific and highly-granular data access policies in accordance with their project, institution, and political jurisdiction.  

The CanDIG platform is an open-source, standards-driven approach to the unique problem of Canadian health care data-sharing.

Karen, CanDIG Team Lead


The CanDIG team brings diverse expertise in software development, data management, and biological data analysis to the task of building a secure, flexible data-sharing platform. We are passionate about open-source and embrace our role as a GA4GH driver project, using these community-driven standards to facilitate interoperability with other platforms. Ironically, given our support of distributed data sharing, we are a distributed team, with members at UHN but also the BC Genome Sciences Center and the Centre for Computational Genomics at McGill!  

Our major project for 2022 has been supporting the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network (MoHCCN). We have been implementing data models, working with sites to wrangle and ingest data, implementing data policies, and developing search and visualization tools for the MoHCCN data. The end goal is for researchers at any of the participating cancer centres to discover clinical and genomic data at other sites relevant for their studies, and to request access to use that data. A win for Canadian cancer research!