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NF Hackathon Winners Present Findings at the Children’s Tumor Foundation Scientific Conference

Four teams share novel ideas for unraveling neurofibromatosis data

As the NF Conference drew to a close today, four teams from the previous week’s intensive 3-day NF Hackathon presented their work before the world’s NF experts to much interest and optimism surrounding their innovative work. The prior weekend, over 75 data specialists, engineers, and artificial intelligence experts gathered at the Google Developers Launchpad Space in San Francisco to explore vast amounts of data from the NF Data Portal, a collaboration of the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF), Sage Bionetworks (Sage) and the Neurofibromatosis Therapeutic Acceleration program (NTAP). The high-energy hackathon participants broke up into 10 teams to explore NF-related genomics, computer science and vision, statistics, and bioinformatics, and four teams were selected to present at today’s scientific meeting.

The scientific meeting, called the NF Conference, is the leading global annual gathering of experts dedicated to developing treatments for neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body and affects 1 in 3,000 people of all populations. Over 500 scientists, clinicians, and other experts attended the scientific conference, in addition to several hundred NF patients and families who were also in San Francisco as part of NF Innovation Week, with the Hackathon and the scientific conference bookending the patient and family gathering in between, called the NF Forum.

The Hackathon was managed by SVAI (Silicon Valley Artificial Intelligence), and the participants focused on 3 core areas:

Imaging – can we identify features of MRIs to diagnose specific tumor types or predict progression? Can we improve upon current segmentation algorithms?

Preclinical Drug Modeling – can we use the data from preclinical systems of NF1 and NF2 associated tumors to identify validated and druggable targets that modulate disease?

Genomics – what genomic/transcriptomic features are most closely associated with the different NF tumor types? Can we use these features to identify novel drug targets.

The 4 winning teams that presented at the NF Conference (in no particular order) are:

Team Null Function:  Integration of multidiscipline analysis from DNA sequencing, RNA sequencing, as well as the previous knowledge about the gene interactions, to identify new target genes for further drug discoveries. Read more here.

Team QIAGEN: Inferring regulators and pathways involved in NF1 and NF2 tumors originating from Schwann cells using gene expression data. Read more here.

Team STIR: Automated segmentation of whole body MRI using deep learning segmentation algorithms. Read more here.

Team Dermaviz:  Comprehensive Research Suite for integrated Phenotyping, Genotyping and 3D Modeling for NF patients.  Read more here.

To learn more about the NF Hackathon, NF Forum, and the NF Conference, please visit