Outcome of SPHN first project call: a focus on SIB-led projects

The National Steering Board of SPHN has recently approved the 15 projects that will help develop the infrastructure required to make health-related data interoperable and shareable across Switzerland.

SIB group leaders are well represented in these projects’ leadership, demonstrating their interest, and expertise regarding the research needs to advance personalized health in Switzerland. Among the selected projects, three have SIB PIs, five have SIB Group Leaders as co-applicants or co-PIs.

An infrastructure development project on cancer variants annotation

One of the approved projects led by SIB Group Leaders is the Swiss Variant Interpretation Platform for Oncology (SVIP-O). SVIP-O aims to provide a central resource for clinicians and researchers to annotate and interpret clinically verified variants in cancer. Not only will this reduce discrepancies in variant annotation, but also mitigate the great manual workload for clinical sites, when interpreting conflicting annotations. The support for the interpretation of patient-level sequences will be enabled by combining SIB's excellence in literature mining, biocuration, and clinical decision-support to primarily serve partners of the SIB Somatic Mutation Calling Working Group. Submitted by Daniel Stekhoven and Patrick Ruch, the SVIP-O project builds upon two aspects of the SPHN initiative to optimally leverage its resources and funding, namely BioMedIT and the SPHN call for infrastructure development projects. The database and the governance mechanisms have been launched as the 1st infrastructure step of BioMedIT, under the leadership of Valérie Barbié (SIB Clinical Bioinformatics). The SVIP-O project will provide additional advanced modules aiming at improved usability of the database.

A driver project for oncology treatment and research

Another approved project led by a SIB Group Leader in the oncology field is the driver project proposed by Olivier Michielin, in association with Jacques Fellay, Patrich Ruch and Sylvain Pradervand. Personalized treatments based on single gene alterations, are currently already effective in the clinic. Guiding treatment decisions based on extensive molecular –omics data remains however one of the biggest challenge of the oncology field for the years to come. An important aim of this driver project is to adapt the clinical information flow in order to capture the essential data in a structured way so that they can be automatically pushed in the local data-warehouses and be used for treatment and research. This project is articulated around three main goals:

  1. Establish a national strategy to continuously collect the clinical and molecular data required to drive a personalized oncology program with the university hospitals of Geneva, Lausanne and Bern;
  2. Connect regional centres and private medical oncologists to the university hubs;
  3. Provide the data management and data analysis infrastructure to utilize the data for basic research and clinical decision support.

This project will be collaborating with the "Multidisciplinary Multicentre Molecular and Cellular Cancer Consortium" project.

A driver project for inflammatory disease immunotherapy

SIB Group Leader Manfred Claassen leads a Swiss-wide SPHN/PHRT driver project with ten co-applicants. This project aims at the identification of cell population biomarkers and therapeutic targets in inflammatory disease immunotherapy, using high-dimensional single cell analysis, cluster proteomics and ATAC sequencing.

Several of these diseases remain difficult to treat, rendering the identification of personalized biomarkers for differential therapy response a fundamental goal. This project will use the advances in high-dimensional single cell cytometry combined with computer-aided analysis that provide the most innovative technology platform today to identify reliable biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets.

The BioMedIT node operated by the Scientific IT Services at the ETH Zurich (co-applicant SIB Group Leader Bernd Rinn) will provide the interoperability of the clinical and molecular data within the project and extend it at a national level via SPHN.

The PIs’ vision is to open this pipeline to all clinical centres nationally and to implement routine procedures across Switzerland for sampling and biobanking. The identification of disease signatures will have a direct impact on the definition of personalized therapeutic interventions in routine clinical care of inflammatory diseases.

Stay tuned for more information on SIB’s involvement in the SPHN initiative.