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Large-scale functional screening of cancer cell lines provides a complementary approach to cancer genome studies that aim to characterize the molecular alterations (mutations, copy number alterations, basal gene expression, etc.) of primary tumors. Project Achilles, one such functional screen, aims to link gene dependencies to the molecular characteristics of each cancer in order to identify molecular targets and guide therapeutic development. The promise of targeted cancer therapy requires both effective treatments and good biomarkers to identify patient populations likely to respond to those treatments. Therefore, a critical need exists to accurately predict essential genes across a wide variety of cancer subtypes.

The goal of this project is to use a crowd-based competition to develop predictive models that can infer gene dependency scores in cancer cells (genes that are essential to cancer cell viability when suppressed) using features of those cell lines. An additional goal is to find a small set of biomarkers (gene expression, copy number, and mutation features) that can best predict a single gene or set of genes.