Subha Madhavan, PhD


Innovation Center for Biomedical Informatics
Georgetown University
Washington D.C.


Data Science Platforms are Integral to Help Drive Molecularly Targeted Therapy Development and Personalized Medicine Research


The advent of the microarray technology in 2000 has paved the way for advanced translational research methods that use molecular markers such as microRNA, proteins, metabolites and copy number data. Our flagship web platform, the Georgetown Database of Cancer (G-DOC), was deployed in April 2011 to enable the practice of an integrative translational and systems-based approach to research and medicine in cancer. G-DOC is a feature-rich shareable research infrastructure that allows physician scientists and translational researchers to mine and analyze a variety of “omics” data in the context of consistently defined clinical outcomes data for cancer patients.

The popularity of next generation sequencing (NGS) grew exponentially in 2007 when a faster, more accurate and affordable sequencing throughput became a reality. Since then, the size and complexity of genomic data has increased many fold, making its analysis, management and integration increasingly challenging. Scientists today are using not only a combination of clinical, NGS and omics data for analysis, but also medical and pathology images for validation of analysis results. To drive hypothesis generation and validation of molecular markers for biologists and researchers, it would be convenient to have a “one–stop” system that can handle all these data types, including NGS and medical images, in one location. For this purpose, we expanded the G-DOC system to support NGS and medical images. Moreover, the success of G-DOC in the cancer realm has helped us realize the importance of such systems in the non-cancer world for complex diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Duchene Muscular dystrophy, etc.

With the goal of improving overall health outcomes through advanced genomics research, we present G-DOC Plus, our web platform that enables the integrative analysis of multiple data types to understand mechanisms of cancer and non-cancer diseases for precision medicine. G-DOC Plus allows researchers to explore data one sample at a time, as a sub-cohort of samples; or as a population as a whole, providing the user with a comprehensive view of the data.


Subha MadhavanDr. Madhavan is Director of the Innovation Center for Biomedical Informatics (ICBI) at the Georgetown University Medical Center and Associate Professor of Oncology.  She is a world-class leader in data science, clinical informatics and health IT who is responsible for several biomedical informatics efforts including the Georgetown Database of Cancer (G-DOC) a resource for both researchers and clinicians to realize the goals of personalized medicine, the NCI In Silico Research Center for Excellence, and co-directs Lombardi Cancer Center’s Biostatistics and Bioinformatics shared resource.  She leads the Biomedical Informatics program of the Georgetown-Howard Universities CTSA.  In this role, she has enabled access to over 2.5 million patient records from 10 MedStar Health hospitals to translational researchers. She was the PI on the Breast and Colon Cancer Family Registries data center that coordinates public health and epidemiology data across 12 sites in the US, Australia, and Canada.  More recently, she has partnered with the FDA on the Center for Excellence in Regulatory Science program to develop evidence bases for pharmacogenomics and vaccine safety. Her group was recently awarded the Massive Data Initiative grant by Georgetown’s McCourt’s School of Public Policy to explore legal and economic barriers to implementing personalized medicine. She has contributed to novel information sciences findings in research articles published in journals such as Nature, Bioinformatics, Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB), AJPM, Frontiers in Oncology, Bioinformatics, Cancer Informatics, and Molecular Cancer Research (MCR).

Prior to joining Georgetown, Dr. Madhavan served as the Associate Director of Product and Program Management in the Life sciences informatics area at NCI’s Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information technology.  Her work at NCI involved bridging the gap between bench and bedside by enabling researchers and physician scientists to use cutting edge biomedical informatics solutions to identify better therapies for cancer.  At NCI she led a group of scientists, physicians and software engineers in building REMBRANDT (REpository for MolecularBRAin Neoplasia DaTa) – a database that hosts and interconnects clinical data points with various genomics datasets from large brain tumor clinical trials. This effort won the prestigious Service to America Award.  While at NCI she also established the data coordination center for The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), which managed and analyzed high dimensional genomic data of approximately 100 TB over a period of 3 years.

Dr. Madhavan has a Master of Science in Information Technology from University of Maryland and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biological Sciences from the Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences through a highly ranked Indo-US Collaborative program.