What if helping in the fight against cancer was as simple as going to bed?

Take a nightshift as a cancer researcher to help solve cancer faster.

The DreamLab app from The Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Vodafone Foundation helps you to do just that. Available now on iOS from App Store, as well as Android from Google Play, the app uses your smartphone’s computing power to solve cancer research problems faster.

How does DreamLab work?

Think of your smartphone as a small but powerful computer. When it’s idle — like when you’re asleep at night — that power goes untapped. DreamLab puts that power to use for good to fast track cancer research.

Each phone downloads tiny research problems, calculates them, and then send the result back to the research team at Garvan.

Here’s a simple video to help explain it:

What is DreamLab actually solving?

Garvan has placed two huge research projects – called Project Decode and Project Genetic Profile – in the cloud. Each project is huge – with over 26 million different micro-problems that need calculating in order to understand and make sense of the data.

When you power DreamLab, you’re downloading one of these 26 million problems that need calculating by using your phone’s computing power.

Each person’s phone works on a different problem, although there is duplication of each task (two people each solve the same calculation), so that Garvan can be sure that the results sent back are accurate.

Both Project Decode and Project Genetic Profile seek to understand cancer based on a patient’s DNA profile, rather than the tissue in which their cancer started.

For example, one of the problems that your phone could solve is comparing a tiny part of genetic information from a breast cancer patient to that of a pancreatic cancer patient. DreamLab conducts a calculation (using a special algorithm) to understand what is similar and different genetically between these two patients.

Patterns in the calculations can help researchers identify patients who share similar DNA mutation profiles, even though they might have ‘different’ cancers.

In this example, the calculations might show that the patient with breast cancer, and the other with pancreatic cancer actually share similar DNA profiles, which means they might respond to the same drug. And if you have an aggressive cancer, then getting the right drug – matched to your DNA – at the right time, can make all the difference.

The combination of a large community (our DreamLab users) and big data analysis, makes this revolutionary form of research possible.

How DreamLab uses data

Because the DreamLab app needs to download and upload problems from the cloud, it does need an internet connection to work. You can choose to use DreamLab over your WiFi, and / or your mobile network.

You’re in control and can set a monthly limit. DreamLab will keep solving problems until it reaches the data limit you have set, then it will pause.

For Vodafone customers, the mobile data to use DreamLab is free on the Vodafone Australia network. It won’t even appear on your bill and it won’t count towards your monthly data allowance.

“We are incredibly passionate about DreamLab and Garvan’s ground-breaking research it is supporting. The more people who download DreamLab, the faster Garvan can complete its research, so we’ve made the data it uses free for all Vodafone customers.” – Iñaki Berroeta, CEO, Vodafone Australia

DreamLab and your privacy

DreamLab does not access personal information on your phone.

Like other apps that you download and use, it can’t take over or gain access to other parts of your phone. It simply utilises the phone’s computing power in to solve calculations.

You also don’t need to provide any personal information to set up and use DreamLab.

Note, on Android devices, the app requests access to ‘photos, media, files permission’ in order to temporarily store the tiny research problems whilst they are being calculated by your phone. DreamLab will only access these problems in your phone’s files directories. It does not access your photos or media.

The cancer patient data you download to calculate is anonymised and de-identified for research purposes.

Vodafone Foundation and Garvan Institute

Medical research is the key to solving cancer, but one thing slowing progress is the limited access researchers have to supercomputers to crunch their complex data. From Dr Warren Kaplan at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research:

“There are many important research questions we’d like to ask, but some need so much computing power that it would cost too much, or take us years and years. DreamLab gives us free access to a dedicated virtual supercomputer to accelerate our cancer research, giving more hope to patients and their families.”

At Vodafone Foundation, our purpose is to support charities to use mobile technology to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians.  We created DreamLab because cancer affects so many Australians, and cancer research progress is slowed by a limited access to supercomputers, we created DreamLab. With smartphones outnumbering the number of people in our country we saw a great opportunity to create Australia’s first smartphone supercomputer – and give you the opportunity to help solve cancer, all while you sleep.

Download now on iOS from App Store, or for Android on the Google Play store.

DreamLab is an initiative of the Vodafone Foundation, in support of a long-term partnership with The Garvan Institute of Medical Research. The DreamLab server is powered by Amazon Web Services . The app was built by the clever team at Transpire.



Terms and conditions

Terms and Conditions. 1: A compatible handset is required. Downloading DreamLab will consume data. Once downloaded, DreamLab can be used when your device (i) is connected to a charging source and (ii) has mobile network or WiFi connectivity. Mobile data to use DreamLab is free for Vodafone Australia customers on the Vodafone Australia network. Roaming incurs international rates.  More Terms and Conditions, here.

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Alyssa Jones

Head of Vodafone Foundation

Alyssa Jones,
Head of Vodafone Foundation

Alyssa works at the intersection of medicine and mobile technology. Partnering with the Garvan Institute, Hello Sunday Morning, and Baker IDI, Alyssa provides tech solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians.