ImmPort Blog

ImmPort at FORCE2019: Edinbough, Scotland

Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Responsible (FAIR) data principals are at the core of ImmPort’s mission. This driving force intersects well with another force, FORCE11 that is, which stands for the Future of Research Communications and e-Scholarship, a group founded in 2011 to “improve research practices by supporting innovations in the ways knowledge is created and shared across research disciplines, communities, sectors and timeframes.” ImmPort’s own Scientific Program Director, Dr. Sanchita Bhattacharya @SanchitaB, was honored to share a poster presentation during FORCE11’s annual conference in Edinbough, Scotland.

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What if clinicians could understand earlier in pregnancy which mothers are developing preeclampsia, far before any clinical symptoms emerge? A team of researchers discovered that a set of eight cell-specific immune features from a maternal blood sample accurately predicted the onset of preeclampsia well before traditional clinical signs appeared. These results are captured in ImmPort study SDY1528, and are as always, freely available for download and re-use. Preeclampsia is a leading cause of maternal death and preterm birth, however early diagnosis has been challenging.

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What conditions do living donors experience in the years following solid-organ donation? This is a question immTransplant seeks to understand using data from 27 clinical studies in the ImmPort database. By providing this information in an open access format, researchers can leverage the data to understand which conditions living donors may experience up to 40 years down the road. Additionally, a trajectory network map shows relationships between conditions; for example, how frequently one condition progresses to another.

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With 9 new studies and 7 updated studies, the latest release of ImmPort contains shared data (ready for free re-use) from thousands of experimental samples. Research focus areas include vaccine response, allergy, asthma, and preterm birth. Assay types including ELISA, ELISPOT, RNA sequencing, flow cytometry, and many more. One new shared study, SDY1086, presented novel insights into how the gut microbiome impacts vaccine response in humans. Per the study summary published in Cell, researchers administered a seasonal influenza vaccine to a group of healthy adults who were given a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics, and also administered the vaccine to a control group of healthy adults not receiving antibiotics.

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How to Explore ImmPort Data Visually

Bringing data to life through visualization is a powerful tool for discovery, and the ImmPort team is proud to add this capability to the ImmPort user experience. In one quick glance, users can now explore data in bubble chart format by research focus area, and drill down to find datasets by assay type. Additionally, users can visualize other aspects of study data by clicking any numbers with a pie chart icon at the top of the Shared Data homepage.

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What can the Immune Epitope Database (IEDB) do for your research? With over two million experiments and hundreds of thousands of epitopes stored, the IEDB provides an invaluable free resource to researchers worldwide. Dr. Bjoern Peters, PhD and co-leader of the IEDB and Professor for the La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology, gave an information-packed talk during FOCIS on the wealth of information within the IEDB. The IEDB is one of the world’s largest catalogues of epitopes, which are the specific molecular structures used by the immune system to recognize unwanted visitors such as viruses and bacteria.

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With the advances in high parameter single cell technologies such as flow cytometry and CyTOF, researchers now have access to a staggering amount of data at the individual cellular level. This data can provide critical insight into immune function, revealing clues to underlying disease mechanisms and even predict patient response to treatment. During FOCIS 2019, Dr. Pratip K. Chattopadhyay, PhD gave an innovative talk on how high parameter flow cytometry and a new computational platform have been able to predict metastatic melanoma outcomes and patient response to specific immunotherapies using only a blood sample.

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Preterm birth, or delivery of an infant prior to 37 weeks of gestation, is a significant cause of infant morbidity and mortality. Globally, over 15 million babies are delivered prematurely each year, and over 1 million infant deaths annually are attributed to complications related to preterm birth. March of Dimes and its research partners are working tirelessly to change those statistics. In the past, usage of big data has been limited in the field of preterm birth research.

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ImmPort team members, @ImmPortDB, and collaborators were thrilled to host a series of talks and a hands-on workshop during the 2019 Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS) Annual Meeting. The action packed session was chaired by ImmPort Scientific Program Director, Sanchita Bhattacharya, @SanchitaB, PhD and Bioinformatics Project Lead of the Bakar Institute of Computational Health Sciences, UCSF, and included several enlightening presentations from ImmPort collaborators and team members: Precision Immunology: How High Parameter Technology Can Shape Immunotherapy; Pratip K.

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The International Society for Advancement of Cytometry will hold its 34th annual congress in Vancouver, Canada on June 22-26, 2019. This distinguished event known as CYTO, features world renowned speakers, workshops, scientific tutorials, and technology showcases in the area of cytometry. ImmPort’s own Atul Butte, MD, PhD and Director of the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute at UCSF, will be speaking on the topic of Translating a Trillion Points of Data into Therapies, Diagnostics, and New Insights into Immunology on June 23rd.

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