The Cognoma project was initially started in the summer of 2016 by the Greene Lab, DataPhilly, and Code for Philly as an ongoing hackathon. The primary project lead has been Daniel Himmelstein, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, who was nominated for a 2016 Philly Geek Award for Scientist of the Year.

Philadelphia area organizations that have provided space or sponsorship include CandiDate, the Penn Institute for Biomedical Informatics, Think Company, Milkboy, and Neo Technology. The project provided an opportunity for local software developers and data scientists to contribute their own expertise to the fight against childhood cancers. See for example, this recap of the Cognoma MLK Day event with Think Company.

Participants in the hackathon both performed research into how cancer genomics datasets can be analyzed and developed a new web interface for use by cancer researchers. To date, hundreds of individuals from the Philadelphia area have attended one or more hackathons. More than forty individuals have contributed to the underlying source code for the project. The Cognoma website allows researchers to build machine learning models of gene expression signatures that result from key mutations.