Category Archive: Technology

The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Founded in 1980, the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC) now generates more than $35 million each year in support of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a leading cancer treatment center in Boston. The majority of funds raised by PMC go to Dana-Farber as unrestricted gifts that fund some of the institute’s most important treatment and research efforts.

One of the major research projects at Dana-Farber, Profile, looks at gene mutations possibly linked to cancer. At present, Profile looks for about 500 different possible mutations in 41 genes. The Profile project strives to develop therapies that target genetic causes of cancer. In addition to Profile, PMC funding supports the Longwood Research Center, which will help 30 independent investigators undertake their own research while initiating collaborative efforts when the facility opens in late 2014. Dana-Farber has used the center to attract the most promising researchers to Boston as part of its staff.

To fuel new discoveries, Dana-Farber utilizes a significant amount of PMC funding to attract future oncology leaders and provide them with a high level of training. The institute is an affiliate of Harvard and teams young doctors with senior faculty able to guide their research. To that end, PMC funding also provides early stage support for researchers with especially innovative ideas. In addition, Dana-Farber must often grant bridge funding between grants so that researchers can continue their work.

Outside of research, Dana-Farber remains committed to improving community health. Recently, the institute used PMC funding to complete a health needs assessment for underserved parts of the greater Boston area. Another initiative will supplement the Mammography Van, which already screens more than 4,000 women annually, to raise awareness of breast cancer in surrounding neighborhoods.

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Under a Cloud: Discovery in the Online Storage Age

For most Internet users, the advent of “the cloud” has been a blessing, allowing massive amounts of data to be stored remotely and accessed online. Many businesses and organizations have sought to utilize cloud-based storage solutions in order to take advantage of the technology’s ability to make organizing and accessing data more efficient. Because the cloud has grown so rapidly since its introduction, however, legal professionals have struggled to understand the implications of online storage for the justice system, particularly with regards to the process of discovery.

The civil procedure guidelines concerning discovery have had to undergo numerous changes as people and businesses increasingly store information in electronic formats. Electronic discovery, or e-discovery, was already a complicated process when data was stored locally, requiring the investigation of metadata and the processing of diverse file formats and storage paradigms. The cloud complicates matters by placing the data on servers outside the direct control of an individual or entity, causing complicated legal issues and exacerbating existing issues with data retention and organization.

While the majority of those surveyed in a Forbes.com poll were using cloud storage for at least some of their data, only 16 percent had an e-discovery plan in effect, and further research indicates that few organizations have successfully migrated all of their data onto the cloud. For attorneys representing these organizations, the storage medium presents issues; while attorney-client privilege is maintained assuming reasonable data protection processes, the law makes the security of the data uncertain, with loophole available for litigants to discover data through subpoenas served directly to the server’s operator. Given these risks, attorneys have found it necessary to assess the ability of cloud providers to secure data while directing clients to keep sensitive information in offline storage. Meanwhile, business owners and other entities attempting to store data in the cloud should strive to maintain an organizational structure and risk prevention mechanism to ensure that the expense of an e-discovery process will not cost more than migrating data to the cloud in the first place.

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