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CANCER IMMUNOTHERAPY DATA SCIENCE CHALLENGE SERIES

REPROGRAMMING T CELLS TO COMBAT TUMORS

MAY 23, 2020 | 1:00PM EST

HOW WILL TOPCODER HELP

WHY IT MATTERS

The future of cancer care is immunotherapy — using our own body’s immune system to eliminate tumors. While T cells, our immune system's fighter cells, should, in theory, recognize and kill growing tumors, cancer cells send signals to T cells that cause the T cells to malfunction and fail to control tumor growth.

But what if we could modify individual genes in T cells to stop this process — and transform T cells into tumor destroyers? While scientists have made breakthroughs in cancer immunotherapy and T cell engineering in the last two decades, the problem is that there are 20,000 individual gene modifications, or “perturbations,” researchers could make to affect T cell function. Experimentally testing so many perturbations — and combinations of perturbations — in the lab would be too costly and time-consuming. That's why the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Center at the Broad Institute, Harvard Laboratory for Innovation Science, and other partners are holding a data science challenge to bring together the machine learning community to develop algorithms that identify the best genetic changes in T cells to prevent malfunction and enable tumor killing.

SPRINTS

Topcoder will host a series of challenges with specific problem statements and acceptance criteria to iterate upon this problem. We will need machine learning specialists to help:

Use a training set of T cells with experimentally characterized perturbations to predict the effects of unseen, held-out perturbations.

Propose the best individual gene perturbations (among all 20,000 possibilities) to prevent T cell malfunction and enable tumor killing.

Propose a quantitative metric for ranking the efficacy of these proposed perturbations.

We will experimentally validate the predictions from question 2, choosing perturbations based on the top-scoring submissions from question 1 and expert discussion. Datasets will be provided via Terra.

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TEAMING DETAILS 

Individuals can compete alone or as a group. 

A team form will be released where individuals can declare their team members as well as the prize distribution.

In order to submit to Challenge 2, teams must have submitted to Challenge 1.

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