Master’s Thesis Topic: Exploring spatial cause-effect relationships in cancer research

The goal of the work (jointly conducted with the Institute for Geoinformatics at the University of Münster) is to develop a spatial recommender system which assists in exploring cause-effect relationships of significant incidence elevations of selected cancer types in a predefined geographic region. The system should draw on Linked Data techniques to answer two types of queries:

  • Given a significant elevation of the cancer risk (parameterized through the standardized incidence ratio) for a certain tumour and at a certain spatial unit (e.g. community level), what are possible (spatial) cancer causes and cancer risk factors?
  • Given an elevated cancer cause/risk factor in a geographic region, what are types of cancer likely to occur?

The tasks of the student include both a modelling component and an implementation component. The modelling aspect involves:

  • The specification of a use case (together with the IES – Institut für Epidemiologie und Sozialmedizin);
  • Identify useful taxonomies for cancer research as well as known causes and risk factors for selected cancer types in the monographies of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The implementation aspect includes:

  • The encoding of data from the use case using Linked Data techniques;
  • The development of a Web Interface.

The successful candidate is expected to write the Master’s thesis in the Summer Semester 2014. S/he should have epidemiological background knowledge about cancer etiologies or willingness to learn about them. Programming knowledge (HTML, CSS, PhP, Javascript) as well as knowledge of Semantic Web Technologies such as RDF, SPARQL is desirable but not mandatory.

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