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Novel Competition Combines Crowdsourcing and Data Sharing to Drive Innovation in Prostate Cancer Research

Project Data Sphere, LLC, and Sage Bionetworks in collaboration with the multi-institutional DREAM Challenges Initiative, launch Prostate Cancer DREAM Challenge to improve prediction of survival, disease progression and treatment toxicity in advanced disease

(Business Wire Industry leaders in biomedical research, oncology data sharing and computational science today announced the launch of an innovative research challenge for prostate cancer using previously unavailable clinical data. The Prostate Cancer DREAM Challenge is the first research challenge in prostate cancer to marry crowdsourcing with data sharing, paving a new way to tackle key research questions about metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), an advanced form of the disease with poor outcomes. Sign up to participate in the Challenge at:!Synapse:syn2813558.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, with approximately 233,000 new diagnoses in 2014 in the U.S.1 For patients whose disease has spread (metastasized), survival rates are often poor due to the loss of efficacy of hormonal therapy, which has been the standard of care treatment of prostate cancer for more than 70 years.2

“The Prostate Cancer DREAM Challenge is a truly unique opportunity to find solutions that can lead to better outcomes for thousands of men with advanced disease,” said Howard Scher, MD, Chief Genitourinary Oncology Services, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and member of the scientific steering committee for the Challenge. “Whether you are a bench scientist, clinical researcher or a numbers whiz looking for a computational challenge, all solvers are welcome and encouraged to harness the potential of these data.”

The Challenge calls upon the cancer research and computational biology community to find solutions to key unanswered clinical research questions about mCRPC and explore innovative research and modeling approaches. The two specific questions are:

  • Predict survival for prostate cancer patients using clinical data
  • Predict treatment discontinuation for prostate cancer patients treated with docetaxel

Data for the Challenge has been standardized and integrated from four different, de-identified clinical trials with more than 2,000 mCRPC patients treated with first-line docetaxel. The data sets were provided to Project Data Sphere, LLC by AstraZeneca, Celgene, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Sanofi US.

Project Data Sphere, LLC, and Sage Bionetworks with the support and experience of the DREAM Challenges Initiative, have come together to make the Challenge possible. Utilizing multiple clinical trial data sets from Project Data Sphere, LLC (, the Challenge will be hosted on Synapse (, Sage Bionetworks' open compute platform that allows data to be worked on interactively by Challenge participants, who may be individuals or teams. The DREAM Challenges Initiative brings the proven research challenge methodology, with a track record of more than 32 successful scientific research challenges.

As recently discussed by Kald Abdallah, MD, PhD, Chief Project Data Sphere Officer, in The Oncologist (see, “with its novel scientific approach and access to data that would otherwise be unavailable to participants, the Prostate Cancer DREAM Challenge offers an entirely new way to move prostate cancer research forward. We can do better for men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, and some of the answers may lay in the vast amount of data from individual phase III trials collected through the Project Data Sphere initiative.”

Remarked Dr. Thea Norman, Director of Strategic Development for Sage Bionetworks, “Today’s launch of the Prostate Cancer DREAM Challenge is a landmark day for open science, especially when you consider the sea change that has taken place around pharmaceutical companies now making historical phase III data sets available for open research. Besides providing a mechanism to collect hundreds of predictive models on pressing biomedical questions, organizing DREAM Challenges around multiple clinical trial data sets also helps us to understand the best ways to merge smaller data sets together so that tougher problems can be solved by the crowd.”

Individuals or teams who are interested to participate in the Challenge can visit:!Synapse:syn2813558 to register and access a Wiki page with Challenge rules, information and background materials. A forum allowing participants to discuss their ideas, find new teammates and ask questions will be available. Final submissions will include algorithm source code and a written description of the approach. Special recognition opportunities will be made available to the top performers, including: presentation opportunities at the Prostate Cancer Foundation Scientific Retreat and the DREAM Conference, and a publication opportunity with Nature Biotechnology. The Challenge organizers are also working to secure financial recognition for the top performers.

About the Project Data Sphere Initiative

Project Data Sphere, LLC, an independent, not-for-profit initiative of the CEO Roundtable on Cancer's Life Sciences Consortium (LSC), operates the Project Data Sphere® platform ( Launched in April 2014, the Project Data Sphere platform provides one place where the cancer community can broadly share, integrate, analyze and discuss historical patient-level comparator arm data sets (historical patient-level cancer phase III) from multiple providers, with the goal of advancing research. With its broad-access approach, the initiative brings diverse minds and technology together to help unleash the full potential of existing clinical trial data and speed innovation by generating collective insights that may lead to improved trial design, disease modeling and beyond. The platform currently contains over 13,500 patient lives, nearly 8,500 of which are across a wide spectrum of prostate cancer populations.

About Sage Bionetworks

Sage Bionetworks is a nonprofit biomedical research organization, founded in 2009, with a vision to promote innovations in personalized medicine by enabling a community-based approach to scientific inquiries and discoveries. Sage Bionetworks strives to activate patients and to incentivize scientists, funders and researchers to work in fundamentally new ways in order to shape research, accelerate access to knowledge and transform human health. It is located on the campus of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington and is supported through a portfolio of philanthropic donations, competitive research grants, and commercial partnerships. More information is available at

About the DREAM Challenges Initiative

Founded in 2006 by A. Califano (Columbia University) and Gustavo Stolovitzky (IBM Research) the Dialogue on Reverse Engineering Assessment and Methods (DREAM) Challenges Initiative poses fundamental questions about systems biology and translational medicine. Designed and run by a community of researchers from a variety of organizations, the DREAM challenges invite participants to propose solutions — fostering collaboration and building communities in the process. Expertise and institutional support are provided by Sage Bionetworks, along with the infrastructure to host challenges via their Synapse platform. Together, we share a vision allowing individuals and groups to collaborate openly so that the “wisdom of the crowd” provides the greatest impact on science and human health.


1. American Cancer Society. What are the key statistics about prostate cancer? Available at;

2. Crawford ED. Hormonal therapy in prostate cancer: Historical approaches. Rev Urol 2004; 6(Suppl 7):S3-S11.