Atlas Project

Molecular and cellular atlas of pancreatic disease

The Atlas project is a deep basic and translational analysis of specimens from our patients correlated with pertinent clinical information. Malignant tumor and other tissue and blood specimens are collected, rapidly processed and disseminated to multiple research labs for parallel processing, enabling a unique depth and breadth of information to be gleaned from each sample. This integration is possible by extensive communications throughout the University and hospital network. This includes surgery, pathology, diagnostic imaging, endoscopy and oncology. The result is a storehouse of clinical and basic science research data we use to provide insight into the biology of pancreatic disease, predict response to therapies, and tailor the treatment to the patient.

    Atlas Project Workflow Overview Diagram

    As a critical component of our Atlas workflow, we have developed a tissue processing method whereby all tumor specimens are preserved in multiple formats to allow a wide variety of analyses and opportunity for culture (growing cells). Our Atlas contains complete analysis of specimens from all of our patients, including:

    • Genetic and protein analysis
    • Study of the role the immune system and the tumor microenvironment
    • Tumor structure imaging at very high magnification
    • Model systems that mimic how disease works (for example, cultured cells)
    • Monitoring patient response

    In order to understand and track all this data, we are combining our research analysis with clinical information on our participating patients into a single database that can be used by both researchers and doctors. We can also compare our data to a broad population of patients around the world to strengthen our analyses, working closely with the scientists of OHSU's Computational Biology program to uncover which results are the meaningful ones.

    We are using Atlas research towards answering the following clinical questions:

    • How can we better identify patient subgroups that are more likely to benefit from differing therapeutic options?
    • How can we improve the efficacy and tolerability of treatments for patients?
    • What are the mechanisms of developing resistance to therapeutic agents?