3984 The Importance of Reproducibility in High-Throughput Biology: Case Studies

Saturday, February 19, 2011: 1:30 PM
159AB (Washington Convention Center )
Keith A. Baggerly , University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
High-throughput biological assays let us ask very detailed questions about how diseases operate, and promise to let us personalize therapy. Data processing, however, is often not described well enough to allow for reproduction, leading to exercises in “forensic bioinformatics” where raw data and reported results are used to infer what the methods must have been. Unfortunately, poor documentation can shift from an inconvenience to an active danger when it obscures not just methods but errors.

In this talk, we examine several related papers using array-based signatures of drug sensitivity derived from cell lines to predict patient response. Patients in clinical trials were allocated to treatment arms based on these results. However, we show in several case studies that the reported results incorporate several simple errors that could put patients at risk. One theme that emerges is that the most common errors are simple (e.g., row or column offsets); conversely, it is our experience that the most simple errors are common. We briefly discuss steps we are taking to avoid such errors in our own investigations.

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