In chess, the combination of a grand master and computer support beats the grand master or the computer alone, every time. Oncospace, a database and clinical support tool with roots in astronomy, is designed to similarly raise the game of clinician grand masters. Oncospace was designed by Johns Hopkins radiation oncologists, computer scientists, and radiation physicists to tailor radiation treatments to patients’ unique characteristics and preferences. The underlying methods were first invented by computational astronomers who integrated data obtained from many telescopes to create clearer images of the sky. Likewise, Oncospace integrates data from several academic health centers to provide clinicians with a clearer understanding of how to optimize care for their individual patients and reduce radiation-induced toxicity.

The Oncospace Consortium, currently comprised of Johns Hopkins, the University of Washington, the University of Toronto-Sunnybrook, and the University of Virginia, has successfully implemented access to patient data generated from multiple sites. Researchers can now analyze this data remotely without sacrificing patient privacy. For the first time, Hopkins treatment plans for head and neck cancer patients are fully informed by careful analysis of the health data of patients from Johns Hopkins and other academic health centers.

Additionally, the Oncospace program has implemented interactive, real-time capture of clinical information on mobile tablets, enabling the seamless integration of new clinical data into the Oncospace database. The Oncospace team is beginning work with collaborators at Toshiba to refine radiation dosing for individual patients and to create new measures based on the quantitation of radiology images. 

The Oncospace program is creating an infrastructure that will 1) develop novel measures where most needed to improve patient care; 2) integrate and standardize information obtained from multiple data sources; 3) support learning about the efficacy and safety of treatments for individual patients; and 4) better inform clinical decisions to improve outcomes. Oncospace plans to expand its efforts beyond radiation treatment, eventually improving clinician decision-making for a wide range of health problems.

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