Accelerating the Pace of Childhood Cancer Research with Big Data

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation Logo

The Childhood Cancer Data Lab was established by Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) in 2017. ALSF recognized that pediatric cancer researchers face hurdles that impede the pace of research. 

ALSF introduced the Data Lab to empower researchers and scientists across the globe by removing roadblocks, supporting opportunities for collaboration and sharing, and developing resources to accelerate new treatment and cure discovery.

The Data Lab's mission is to empower pediatric cancer experts poised for the next big discovery with the knowledge, data, and tools to reach it. We construct tools that make vast amounts of data widely available, easily mineable, and broadly reusable. We train researchers and scientists to better understand their own data and to advance their work more quickly.

To date, the Data Lab has trained over 200 childhood cancer researchers and has harmonized over 1.3 million data samples and made them easily available. Learn more about the Data Lab’s impact here. 

Two people looking at goals


The Data Lab develops tools designed to make data and analysis widely available and broadly reusable.

Data Science Workshops

The Data Lab offers workshops to teach researchers the data science skills they need to examine their own data. Our courses focus on the most cutting edge tools and analysis techniques. We ensure that participants walk away with an understanding of:

  • The R programming language, R Notebooks, and some reproducible research practices.
  • Processing bulk and single-cell RNA-seq data from raw all the way to downstream analyses.
  • Downstream analyses methods like differential expression analyses, hierarchical clustering, and preparing publication-ready plots.

“I think anyone who is working on or near single-cell data should take this course. I am so much more confident in what I understand about single-cell analyses compared to where I was at the beginning. 10/10 recommend.”

Jessica Elswood, Postdoctoral Associate, Baylor College of Medicine
- Jessica Elswood, Postdoctoral Associate, Baylor College of Medicine


Make a donation to support the Data Lab’s mission of putting knowledge and resources in the hands of pediatric cancer experts poised for the next big discovery. 

With your help, we can

Fund innovative models to scale training workshops.

Offer our expertise and provide consultation on projects that will change the future for children fighting cancer.

Train at least 200 childhood cancer researchers over the next four years.



June 13, 2022

How we use renv to be in two places at once

At the Data Lab, our science team has a practice where an individual team member shares something that they recently figured out (or didn’t totally figure out yet) on a biweekly basis. We call this short 5-10 minute presentation How I Solved This, and it’s a great way to formally share (often hard-won) knowledge with each other. In this post, we thought we’d share how we solved something with the `renv` package with you.



June 2, 2022

Scientific Community Bulletin: What’s happening in June?

Welcome to the Childhood Cancer Data Lab’s new blog feature, the monthly Scientific Community Bulletin! At the start of each month, we will share upcoming opportunities from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), the Data Lab, and other events that we have gathered from a variety of science and research organizations. Our goal is to promote learning opportunities and highlight some of the excellent resources that our community provides.



May 4, 2022

Strategies to center user needs for research tools

The Childhood Cancer Data Lab builds resources guided by the most pressing needs of our primary users: pediatric cancer researchers. As the Data Lab's UX Designer, I conduct research activities with scientists like usability evaluations, semi-structured interviews, and card sorts to gain insight into their activities, processes, pain-points, and behaviors. I work with scientists and engineers at the Data Lab to use this information to improve existing products and services or to create new ones.