IINF 202: Community Commentary: Big data might help cure cancer?

This blog entry stems from a course assignment in INF 202 Introduction to Data and Databases. My topic is “big data might help cure cancer” [http://gigaom.com/data/why-data-is-the-key-to-better-medicine-and-maybe-a-cur…].
It is a good idea to share the data between the hospitals and/or researchers for medical purposes. Data is a key to improve the quality of our medical treatment, but sometimes they do not have enough data what they really need. Improving access to genetic data, for example, might help cure cancer. Some people and organizations are already working on this issue. Fred Trotter’s case is the one. He has built “Doctor Social Graph” by analyzing, 60 million relationships between doctors, and how often they refer patients to one other. Some organizations, such as Palo Alto, are trying to make hospitals more efficient by using analysis of big data from each hospital and medical organization. According to the article, it is very possible to improve cure cancer if every organization can have the access to gene sequence data, which is now only very few people can see. Of course, it is necessary to care about privacy regulations. However, David Haussler, a University of California, Santa Cruz researcher and one of the geneticists who has the access to the gene sequence data, says that if those kinds of data are more opened in an unrestricting setting, then our medical treatment environment would be dramatically changed.
The term of big data is becoming important today. Actually, many big organizations and companies, such as Microsoft, Amazon, and U.S. Department of Defense, have been interested in use of big data. The value of big data is its variety and amount of information. In this point, big data can be an innovation for our current medical system, and this might be happened in near future. However, here is the same problem about the privacy regulations for all other big data use cases. When the information becomes more opened, the regulation is going to be more restricted. Even if many researchers agree that more genetic data might be helpful for curing cancer, the fact is only limited people can see the data today because of the very strict regulations. Sharing more information by using big data is undoubtedly useful, but there are still many problems before the use of big data for medical treatment system is generalized.
When I used personal computer at the very first time the main data storage medium was the floppy disk. It has only 1.44MB on a disk. Now, I store my digital files of school assignments on the cloud computing service, and it has more than 10GB storage space. I feel very lucky that I am experiencing the age of technology, which is rapidly advanced and changed every year. New technologies often surprise me and make me realize that our life becomes more convenient. Today, information is overflowing around our life. Since we use the internet the amount of information is logically increasing. Meanwhile, the term of big data is arisen. I am pretty sure that big data is a key for the next step of information technology in many areas. We can dream that big data can help our life, business, and even personal health care; however, it will take little more time. Because the idea of big data is not fully matured we have to make it forward carefully. Privacy is also the key in this information age, and the conflict between privacy and big data will be a big argument for generations to come.


Yuya Kakei
UAlbany Sophomore in Information Science
Class of 2014


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