Duke, Regeneron, Micronoma Named 2021 Bio-IT World Innovative Practices Winners

July 28, 2021

By Bio-IT World Staff


July 28, 2021 | Bio-IT World has announced the 2021 Innovative Practices Awards winners. Grand prize awards were granted to Duke Cancer Institute with University of California, San Francisco, Micronoma, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Pure Storage and the Folding@home project received honorable mention recognition. All four groups will be presenting their projects at the 2021 Bio-IT World Conference & Expo in Boston in September.

Since 2003, Bio-IT World has hosted an elite awards program, highlighting outstanding examples of how technology innovations and strategic initiatives can advance life sciences research, from basic biomedical research to drug development and beyond. The 2021 awards, which recognize work completed during 2020, are particularly noteworthy. This has been a uniquely demanding season for the industry, but once again the Bio-IT World community has excelled.

“In a year fraught with challenges, the Bio-IT World community has consistently delivered innovation and solutions to serve both researchers and patients,” said Allison Proffitt, Bio-IT World Editorial Director. “This year, our panel of peer judges chose to highlight machine learning enabling outpatient cancer treatment, approaches to managing CryoEM data, and minimally invasive and precise liquid biopsy. In addition, they gave an honorable mention designation to a project enabling citizen science.”

Representatives from each of the four honorees will be speaking at the Bio-IT World Conference & Expo to share further details about their projects. The event will be held both online and in-person in Boston, September 20-22, 2021.


2021 Bio-IT World Innovative Practices Awards Winners

Here are the four chosen entries, as described in their own words.


Duke Cancer Institute with University of California, San Francisco

Patients undergoing outpatient radiotherapy (RT) or chemoradiation (CRT) frequently require acute care (emergency department evaluation or hospitalization). This can impact treatment outcomes, patient quality of life and preferences, and costs to patients and the healthcare system, making it a priority to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has served to highlight the importance of improving the management of acute symptoms, given increasing remote communication with patients (frequently through online patient portals), and limitations of hospital and emergency capacity (reducing capacity and resources to deliver acute care). The SHIELD-RT study (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04277650) demonstrated that ML can be used to direct supplemental clinical evaluations during outpatient cancer RT, reducing acute care in high-risk patients from 22.3% to 12.3%. Routine implementation of this system at the Duke Cancer Institute is underway.

Learn more about the SHIELD-RT study in the Data Science and Analytics Technologies track on Wednesday, September 22:

The Impact of Machine Learning-Directed Supportive Care During Cancer Radiotherapy: The SHIELD-RT Study (Innovative Practices Awards Winner)

Julian Hong, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California, San Francisco


Micronoma is the only cancer diagnostic company using the microbiome to detect early-stage cancer. As liquid biopsy is fast becoming an important new direction method for cancer diagnostics, early detection remains a challenge that using the cancer microbiome may be able to solve. Micronoma's promising research, published in Nature in 2020 (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2095-1), found unique microbial signatures in tissue and blood for most major types of cancer. Our minimally invasive and precise liquid biopsy method can detect cancer in its earliest stages, unlike tests that only focus on the human genome, epigenome, or cancer mutations. The keen intellects and deep industry expertise of the Micronoma team, combined with the power of machine learning and big data analysis joined with the latest innovation in liquid biopsy, will harness the outstanding potential of this innovative technology to improve early cancer diagnosis, and potentially prevent more than 40% of yearly cancer deaths.

Learn more from Micronoma in the Genome Informatics track on Tuesday, September 21:

Micronoma: Using the Microbiome to Detect Early-Stage Cancer (Innovative Practices Awards Winner)

Sandrine Miller-Montgomery, PharmD, PhD, President and CEO, Micronoma Inc.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

When Regeneron invested in cryo-EM technology, it faced a challenge that others have faced: how do we scale and process this vast amount of imagery in a timely fashion, with high levels of quality and agility, while containing costs? The IT team designed Deva Computational Biology Pipeline to provide a high-throughput data pipeline and computational services. As a result, the researchers have at the ready, the ability to transfer an average of 2TB transfer in under two hours and can analyze the data using GPU computation. The Deva Computational Biology Pipeline has been successfully used to provide timely support for the development of an FDA-authorized monoclonal antibody (mAB) cocktail treatment for COVID-19: REGEN-COV. Thanks in part to this support and the hard work of Regeneron teams across the organization, this novel medicine was discovered and developed in record time, despite the pandemic conditions. To our knowledge, this is the first successful implementation of a cloud-based cryo-EM data processing platform of its kind.

Learn more from Regeneron in the Bioinformatics track on Wednesday, September 22:

Regeneron Deva Computational Biology Pipeline for Cryo-EM (Innovative Practices Awards Winner)

Quan Yang, PhD, Executive Director Research & Pre-clinical Development IT, Information Systems & Technology, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals


Honorable Mention: Pure Storage and the Folding@home Project

Folding@home is a distributed computing initiative designed to aid scientists in research and new therapeutics for a wide variety of diseases through the means of sequencing protein dynamics. At the start of the pandemic, Folding@home understood quickly the powerful role it could play in finding ways to combat the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The user community grew exponentially in just weeks—adding more than 400,000 new devices—to make Folding@home the most powerful computer in the world. Finding the right tools to process high volumes of unprocessed data quickly was critical to the organization’s work. Folding@home leveraged a FlashBlade solution from Pure Storage as well as myriad other technologies to process data faster, enabling researchers to separate capacity from computing without sacrificing performance and keeping pace with myriad data simulations.

Learn more about the Folding@home project in the Data Storage Infrastructure track on Tuesday, September 21:

Folding@home Powers Discovery with Next-Gen Data Infrastructure (Innovative Practices Honorable Mention Award)

Gregory R. Bowman, PhD, Associate Professor, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, Washington University Brian Carpenter, Senior Director, Unstructured Technology, Pure Storage