The Challenge

With many research groups working independently to detect cancer-relevant changes across all levels of genomic organization, from point mutations to chromosomal deletions, datasets of genomic alterations found in tumours are inherently fragmentary. The goal of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) was to establish a Genomic Data Commons (GDC) that catalogues, harmonizes and helps support the analysis and sharing of cancer-relevant genomic datasets. Our challenge was to design and build the content management system (CMS) for the GDC website that connects researches to the data portal, and to assist with the design of both the GDC Data Portal and Documentation website.

We identified the primary users of the GDC: researchers, data submitters and developers, and the tasks they would want to complete. For example, researchers needed to be able to
  1. learn about the data currently available on the GDC and how it is being used by other groups,

  2. efficiently query and download data from the GDC and contribute their own datasets in turn, and

  3. review documentation about using the toolsets for querying the data sets and contact the GDC support if needed.

Conversely, developers
  1. need a robust GDC application program interface to leverage for analysis or third-party applications, and

  2. need clear documentation for using the API.


The Solution

Following intelligent design analysis, we built the CMS website in an agile manner. The website also goes into detail about the GDC tools for accessing and submitting high-quality genomic data and offers extensive support so that these tools are used to their full potential. The public website is a window into the GDC Data Portal that will help the key users: researchers, data submitters, and developers, understand the power of the tools and encourage them to contribute and utilize the data.

Furthermore, we continue to assist with the UX and interface design for the GDC Data Portal and help brand all of the GDC Apps in order to ensure a seamless user experience between all of the GDC products. With teams in Chicago, Washington and Toronto, the GDC project remains one of our mission critical websites. We provide immediate service to the GDC team and continue to produce high-value benefits for their diverse user group.