The Challenge

With commitments from funding organizations and project teams across Europe, Asia, Australia, and North and South America, the International Genome Consortium (ICGC) is one of the largest scale biomedical research initiatives to date. ICGC’s primary objective was to create a catalogue of genomic abnormalities observed in tumours and make that data available to the world-wide research community. Accordingly, the website was envisioned as a hub of communication and data sharing with an international audience, providing a summary of the current genome projects to both the public and research communities.

ICGC wished to not only host documentation and policies for accessing data and best practices in research, but also streamline the complex system of application for access to controlled ICGC data through the Data Access Compliance Office (DACO). This required careful definition of different ICGC users roles, which have distinct privileges including access to information, ability to approve applications, ability to update content, and manage ICGC projects.


The Solution

The initial release of ICGC focussed on core mission of the web application, which was to serve as a the primary resource for information about ICGC, by creating a landing page that presents a dynamic list of all Cancer Genome Projects (CGPs) worldwide, and links to additional resources. Following initial release, WebDev expanded the the functionality of the application, releasing DACO online application forms for access to ICGC data, and, more recently, a dashboard for users with Cancer Genome Project (CGP) manager privileges to organize and coordinate their project.

Given the sensitive nature of the data, WebDev created an API that relies on the OAuth 1.0a protocol for the purpose of making authorized HTTP requests for resources. This means that only logged-in users with sufficient authorization may view ICGC data or subsets thereof. For example, users with the role of content editor can view all CGPs and their associated data-level projects (DLPs), DLP managers, which they can add and remove, publications and more, while a DLP administrators’ access and actions is restricted to their own DLP. is now a main portal through which researchers access ICGC publications, the ICGC data portal, and request for access to data through DACO. Today the ICGC data portal houses over 25,000 tumour genomes contributed voluntarily by 88 project teams in 18 countries.