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The caBIG logo

The cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG) was an open-source, open-access information network with the mission of enabling secure data exchange throughout the cancer community. The initiative was developed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI; part of the National Institutes of Health) and was maintained by the Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology (CBIIT). As of April 2012, the NCI has began transition away from the caBIG program and towards a new informatics effort, the National Cancer Informatics Program (NCIP).[1][2][3]


The National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the United States funded the caBIG initiative in spring 2004, with the effort being headed by NCI-affiliated Kenneth Buetow.[4] Its original goal was to connect U.S. biomedical cancer researchers using technology known as grid computing. The program, led by the Center for Bioinformatics and Information Technology (CBIIT), began with a three-year pilot phase. The pilot phase concluded in March 2007, and 56 NCI-designated cancer centers started a trial.[5]

In addition to caGrid, the underlying infrastructure for data sharing among organizations, caBIG developed software tools, data sharing policies, and common standards and vocabularies to facilitate data sharing. Many cancer researchers (2,000+ participants representing 700 organizations) are currently trialing caBIG. The associated software tools targeted:

  • collection, analysis, and management of basic research data
  • clinical trials management, from patient enrollment to adverse event reporting and analysis
  • collection, annotation, sharing, and storage of medical imaging data
  • biospecimen management

In March 2011 the NCI's Board of Scientific Advisors released a report titled "Assessment of the Impact of the NCI CaBIG," a "thorough and objective review" of the program and its over $350 million investment from 2004 to 2010.[5][3] The report stated after a four-month review "caBIG's original goals were worthy and remain highly relevant to the future of cancer research in the United States" but the program had "expanded far beyond those goals to implement an overly complex and ambitious software enterprise of NCI-branded tools, especially in the Clinical Trial Management System (CTMS) space."[5] The group also found "the lack of independent external oversight and the non-peer-review based funding decisions have significantly compromised the ability of the caBIG program to achieve its initial goals."[5] This led to the creation of an oversight committee and ultimately the announcement in April 2012 of the creation of a new National Cancer Informatics Program (NCIP) that would act as the spiritual successor of caBIG, integrating some of its informatics programs and ceasing development on others.[3][1][3]

In July 2012, the NCI's interim director George A. Komatsoulis posted a letter to the community stating caBIG would be integrated into the new National Cancer Informatics Program (NCIP), and once absorbed "caBIG as a separate program will terminate."[3][6]

Further reading


  1. 1.0 1.1 Komatsoulis, George A. (April 2012). "National Cancer Informatics Program Launch Meeting". National Cancer Institute. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 08 May 2013. 
  2. Varmus, Harold (13 April 2012). "Announcement: New National Cancer Informatics Program (NCIP)". National Cancer Institute. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 08 May 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Where is caBIG Going?". CDISC. 9 July 2012. Retrieved 08 May 2013. 
  4. Buetow, Kenneth (01 April 2008). "Heading for the BIG Time". The Scientist 22 (4): p. 60. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Assessment of the Impact of the NCI CaBIG" (PDF). National Cancer Institute. March 2011.‎. Retrieved 08 May 2013. 
  6. Komatsoulis, George A. (July 2012). "Program Announcement". National Cancer Institute. Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 08 May 2013.