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.



February 11, 2024

Meet the women who integrate science, engineering, and design at the Childhood Cancer Data Lab

Did you know that 70% of the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) Childhood Cancer Data Lab team are currently women? Advancing our mission to empower childhood cancer researchers with knowledge, data, and tools would not be possible without their expertise. On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we are excited to introduce you to these women who integrate science, engineering, and design to tackle some of the greatest challenges faced by the pediatric cancer research community!



December 18, 2023

Don't Make Me Write: Tips for Avoiding Typing in RStudio

I have a confession to make: I am lazy. Ok, maybe that's too strong. Let's go for a euphemism instead: I am efficient. I love learning handy tricks that make my life easier and make my job smoother with fewer hiccups along the way. This is one part of why, here in the Data Lab, we love automation - why waste our time on rote, repetitive, housekeeping tasks when we can get the bots to do it for us? In this blog post, we'll highlight a few tips about how you can use RStudio to code more efficiently.



November 15, 2023

Git workflows for scientific projects and when we use them

Writing source code is a significant part of data-intensive biomedical research. Everything from cleaning and pre-processing data to generating publication figures can be accomplished programmatically. Increasingly, funding agencies and journals require researchers to share their code. To pick a few examples, the Data Lab’s parent organization, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), has such a requirement for awardees, and PLoS Computational Biology requires authors to make code underlying results and conclusions available.