About Our Data

File Formats

St. Jude Cloud hosts both raw genomic data files and processed results files:

File Type Short Description Details
BAM HG38 aligned BAM files produced by Microsoft Genomics Service (DNA-Seq) or STAR 2-pass mapping (RNA-Seq). Click here
gVCF Genomic VCF files produced by Microsoft Genomics Service. Click here
Somatic VCF Curated list of somatic variants produced by the St. Jude somatic variant analysis pipeline. Click here
CNV List of somatic copy number alterations produced by St. Jude CONSERTING pipeline. Click here
Feature Counts Curated list of read counts mapped to each gene produced by HTSeq Click here

BAM files

In St. Jude Cloud, we store aligned sequence reads in BAM file format for whole genome sequencing, whole exome sequencing, and RNA-seq. For more information on SAM/BAM files, please refer to the SAM/BAM specification. For research samples, we require the standard 30X coverage for whole genome and 100X for whole exome sequencing. For clinical samples, we require higher coverage, 45X, for whole genome sequencing due to tumor purity issues found in clinical tumor specimens. For RNA-Seq, since only a subset of genes are expressed in a specific tissue, we require 30% of the exons to have 20X coverage in order to ensure that at least 30% of the expressed genes have sufficient coverage.

gVCF files

We provide gVCF files produced by the Microsoft Genomics Service. gVCF files are derived from the BAM files produced above as called by GATK's haplotype caller. Today, we defer to the official specification document from the Broad Institute, as well as this discussion on the difference between VCF and gVCF files. For more information about how Microsoft Genomics produces gVCF files or any other questions regarding data generation, please refer to the official Microsoft Genomics whitepaper.

Somatic VCF files

Somatic VCF files contain HG38 based SNV/Indel variant calls from the St. Jude somatic variant analysis pipeline as follows. Broadly speaking:

  1. Reads were aligned to HG19 using bwa backtrack (bwa aln + bwa sampe) using default parameters.
  2. Post processing of aligned reads was performed using Picard CleanSam and MarkDuplicates.
  3. Variants were called using the Bambino variant caller (you can download Bambino here or by navigating to the Zhang Lab page where the "Bambino package" is listed as a dependency under the CONSERTING section).
  4. Variants were post-processed using an in-house post-processing pipeline that cleans and annotates variants. This pipeline is not currently publicly available.
  5. Variants were manually reviewed by analysts and published with the relevant Pediatric Cancer Genome Project (PCGP) paper.
  6. Post-publication, variants were lifted over to HG38 (the original HG19 coordinates are stored in the HG19 INFO field.).


Our Somatic VCF files were designed specifically for St. Jude Cloud visualization purposes. Variants in these files were manually curated from analyses across multiple sequencing types including WGS and WES.
For more information on variants for each of the individuals, please refer to the relevant PCGP paper. For more information on the variant calling format (VCF), please see the latest specification for VCF document listed here.

CNV files

CNV files contain copy number alteration (CNA) analysis results for paired tumor-normal WGS samples. Files are produced by running paired tumor-normal BAM files through the CONSERTING pipeline which identifies CNA through iterative analysis of (i) local segmentation by read depth within boundaries identified by structural variation (SV) breakpoints followed by (ii) segment merging and local SV analysis. CREST was used to identify local SV breakpoints. CNV files contain the following information:

Field Description
chrom chromosome
loc.start start of segment
loc.end end of segment
num.mark number of windows retained in the segment (gaps and windows with low mappability are excluded)
length.ratio The ratio between the length of the used windows to the genomic length
seg.mean The estimated GC corrected difference signal (2 copy gain will have a seg.mean of 1)
GMean The mean coverage in the germline sample (a value of 1 represents diploid)
DMean The mean coverage in the tumor sample
LogRatio Log2 ratio between tumor and normal coverage
Quality score A empirical score used in merging
SV_Matching Whether the boundary of the segments were supported by SVs (3: both ends supported, 2: right end supported, 1: left end supported, 0: neither end supported)

Feature Counts files

Feature counts are text files that contain counts of reads aligned to genomic features. St. Jude Cloud feature files are generated using HTSeq. The detailed command is documented in our RNA-Seq V2 RFC. The files contain a count of the number of reads overlapping each genomic feature, in this case, genes as specified in GENCODE V31. St. Jude Cloud uses the gene name as feature key. The files are tab-delimited text and contain the feature key and read count for that feature.

Sequencing Information

Whole Genome and Whole Exome

Whole Genome Sequence (WGS) and Whole Exome Sequence (WES) BAM files were produced by the Microsoft Genomics Service aligned to HG38 (GRCh38 no alt analysis set). For more information about how Microsoft Genomics produces BAM files or any other questions regarding data generation, please refer to the official Microsoft Genomics whitepaper.


RNA-Seq BAM files are mapped to HG38. For alignment, STAR v2.7.1a 2-pass mapping is used. Below is the STAR command used during alignment. For more information about any of the parameters used, please refer to the STAR manual for v2.7.1a. The complete RNA-Seq WDL pipeline is available on GitHub. The STAR alignment parameters are also available on GitHub.

    STAR \
             --readFilesIn $(cat read_one_fastqs_sorted.txt) $(cat read_two_fastqs_sorted.txt) \
             --genomeDir ~{stardb_dir} \
             --runThreadN $n_cores \
             --outSAMunmapped Within \
             --outSAMstrandField intronMotif \
             --outSAMtype BAM Unsorted \
             --outSAMattributes NH HI AS nM NM MD XS \
             --outFilterMultimapScoreRange 1 \
             --outFilterMultimapNmax 20 \
             --outFilterMismatchNmax 10 \
             --alignIntronMax 500000 \
             --alignMatesGapMax 1000000 \
             --sjdbScore 2 \
             --alignSJDBoverhangMin 1 \
             --outFilterMatchNminOverLread 0.66 \
             --outFilterScoreMinOverLread 0.66 \
             --outFileNamePrefix ~{output_prefix + "."} \
             --twopassMode Basic \
             --limitBAMsortRAM ~{(memory_gb - 2) + "000000000"} \
             --outSAMattrRGline $(cat read_groups_sorted.txt)

Data Access Units

We currently have the five Data Access Units (DAU) listed below. Basic clinical data is available for relevant subjects in each DAU. Click on the DAU's abbreviation below to navigate directly to that DAU's Study page for more detailed information.

Pediatric Cancer Genome Project (PCGP)

PCGP is a paired-tumor normal dataset focused on discovering the genetic origins of pediatric cancer. The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project is a collaboration between St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University School of Medicine that sequenced the genomes of over 600 pediatric cancer patients.

St. Jude Lifetime (SJLIFE)

SJLIFE is a germline-only dataset focused on studying the long-term adverse outcomes associated with cancer and cancer-related therapy. St. Jude Lifetime (SJLIFE) is a longevity study from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital that aims to identify all inherited genome sequence and structural variants influencing the development of childhood cancer and occurrence of long-term adverse outcomes associated with cancer and cancer-related therapy. This cohort contains unpaired germline samples and does not contain tumor samples.

Clinical Genomics (Clinical Pilot, G4K, and RTCG)

Clinical Genomics is a paired tumor-normal dataset focused on identifying variants that influence the development and behavior of childhood tumors. Clinical Genomics is a cohort from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, comprised of three studies: Clinical Pilot, Genomes4Kids, and Real-time Clinical Genomics. Clinical Pilot is a smaller, pilot study generated to asses the validity and accuracy of moving forward with the G4K study. The RTCG study aims to release Clinical Genomics data in real time to the research community. The goal of these studies is to identify all inherited and tumor-acquired (somatic) genome sequence and structural variants influencing the development and behavior of childhood tumors.

Sickle Cell Genome Project (SGP)

SGP is a germline-only dataset of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) patients from birth to young adulthood. The Sickle Cell Genome Project (SGP) is a collaboration between St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine focused on identifying genetic modifiers that contribute to various health complications in SCD patients. Additional objectives include, but are not limited to, developing accurate methods to characterize germline structural variants in highly homologous globin locus and blood typing.

Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS)

CCSS is a germline-only dataset consisting of whole genome sequencing of childhood cancer survivors. CCSS is a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary, NCI-funded collaborative resource established to evaluate long-term outcomes among survivors of childhood cancer. It is a retrospective cohort consisting of >24,000 five-year survivors of childhood cancer who were diagnosed between 1970-1999 at one of 31 participating centers in the U.S. and Canada. The primary purpose of this sequencing of CCSS participants is to identify all inherited genome sequence and structural variants influencing the development of childhood cancer and occurrence of long-term adverse outcomes associated with cancer and cancer-related therapy.

CCSS: Potential Bacterial Contamination

Samples for the Childhood Cancer Survivorship Study were collected by sending out Buccal swab kits to enrolled participants and having them complete the kits at home. This mechanism of collecting saliva and buccal cells for sequencing is highly desirable because of its non-invasive nature and ease of execution. However, collection of samples in this manner also has higher probability of contamination from external sources (as compared to, say, samples collected using blood). We have observed some samples in this cohort which suffer from bacterial contamination. To address this issue, we have taken the following steps:

  1. We have estimated the bacterial contamination rate and annotated each of the samples in the CCSS cohort. For each sample, you will find the estimated contamination rate in the Description field of the SAMPLE_INFO.txt file that is vended with your data (and as a property on the DNAnexus file). For information on this field, see the Metadata specification.
  2. Using this estimated contamination rate, we have removed 82 samples which exhibited large rates of bacterial contamination.
  3. For the remaining samples, we have provided the BAM file as aligned with bwa mem with default parameters. We have observed that there are instances of reads originating from bacterial contamination that are erroneously mapped to the human genome and display a very low mapping quality. Please be advised that we have kept these reads as they were aligned and have not yet made any attempt to unmap these reads. Any analysis you perform on these samples will need to take this into account!
  4. Last, we will be working over the coming months to unmap the reads originating from bacterial contamination and release updated BAM files along with the associated gVCF files from Microsoft Genomics Service.

With any questions on the nature or implications of this warning, please contact us at support@stjude.cloud.


Each data request includes a text file called SAMPLE_INFO.txt that provides a number of file level properties (sample identifiers, clinical attributes, etc).

Standard Metadata

Below are the set of tags which may exist for any given file in St. Jude Cloud. All optional metadata will have sj_ prepended to their tag name.

Property Description
file_path The path to the file in your St. Jude Cloud project.
subject_name A unique subject identifier assigned internally at St. Jude.
sample_name A unique sample identifier assigned internally at St. Jude.
sample_type One of Autopsy, Cell line, Diagnosis, Germline, Metastasis, Relapse, or Xenograft.
sequencing_type Whether the file was generated from Whole Genome (WGS), Whole Exome (WES), or RNA-Seq.
file_type One of the file types available in St. Jude Cloud.
description Optional field that may contain additional file information.
sj_diseases Short disease identifier assigned at the time of genomic sequencing. Note that this diagnosis may be refined after undergoing genomic testing. When including diagnosis in your analysis, we recommend you use attr_diagnosis, which is the most up to date value for diagnosis.
sj_datasets If present, the datasets in the data browser which this file is associated with.
sj_pmid_accessions If the file was associated with a paper, the related Pubmed accession number.
sj_ega_accessions If the file was associated with a paper, the related EGA accession number.
sj_dataset_accession If present, the permanent accession number assigned in St. Jude Cloud.
sj_embargo_date The embargo date, which specifies the first date which the files can be used in a publication.

Clinical and Phenotypic Information

Also included is a set of phenotypic information queried from the physician or research team's records at the time of sample submission to St. Jude Cloud. These are all considered to be optional, as the level of information gathered for each sample varies. If empty, the physician or research team did not indicate a value for the field. All basic clinical or phenotypic information will have attr_ prepended to their tag name.

Property Description
attr_age_at_diagnosis Age at first diagnosis. This field is normalized as a decimal value. If empty, the physician or research team did not indicate a value for this field.
attr_diagnosis Primary diagnosis reported by the clinic.
attr_ethnicity Self-reported ethnicity. Values are normalized according to the US Census Bureau classifications.
attr_race Self-reported race. Values are normalized according to the US Census Bureau classifications.
attr_sex Self-reported sex.
attr_oncotree_disease_code The disease code (assigned at the time of genomic sequencing) as specified by Oncotree Version 2019-03-01.

Short Disease Code Mapping

Embedded in both the filename and the SAMPLE_INFO.txt file that comes with your data request will be a list of short diagnosis codes (sj_diseases). These short codes were assigned at the time that the sample was sent for sequencing, and they are not necessarily the final diagnosis (attr_diagnosis). For instance, the diagnosis is often refined as the sample undergoes genomic testing. Below, we include a table of short disease code to long disease name mappings so you can interpret what these abbreviations mean.

Short Disease Code Long Diagnosis Description
ACT Adrenocortical Carcinoma
AEL Acute erythroid leukemia (AML M6)
ALCL Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma
ALL Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
ALS Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis ("Lou Gehrig's Disease"")"
ALZ Alzheimer's Disease
AML Acute Myeloid Leukemia
AMLM Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia
ANEM Anemia
ASPS Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma
AUL Acute Undifferentiated Leukemia
BALL B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
BCC Basal Cell Carcinoma
BLACA Bladder Cancer
BT Brain Tumor
CA Carcinoma
CBF Acute Myeloid Leukemia - Core Binding Factor subtype
CLL Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
CML Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
CMML Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia
CMV Cytomegalovirus
CNS Central Nervous System
CPC Choroid Plexus Carcinoma
CRC Colorectal Cancer
CS Chondrosarcoma
CTP Congenital Thrombocytopenia
DIPG Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma
DLBCL Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma
DOWN Down Syndrome
DSRCT Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor
E2A B-Lineage Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - E2A-PBX1 subtype
ECD Erdheim-Chester Disease
EPD Ependymoma
ERG Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - ERG alteration subtype
ETV Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - ETV6-RUNX1 fusion subtype
EWS Ewing's Sarcoma
GCT Germ Cell Tumor
GENBN General Bone
GENKY General Kidney
GENLK General Leukemia
GICT Giant Cell Tumor
GIST Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor
HB Hepatoblastoma
HGG High Grade Glioma
HGS High Grade Sarcoma
HIST Histiocytosis
HL Hodgkin's Lymphoma
HM Hematopoietic Malignancies
HS Hidradenitis Suppurativa
HYPER Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - Hyperdiploid subtype
HYPO Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - Hypodiploid subtype
IFS Infantile Fibromyosarcoma
INF Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (Infant)
ITP Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia
JMML Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia
LCH Langerhans Cell Histiocytocis
LGG Low Grade Glioma
LM Liver Malignancies
MB Medulloblastoma
MDS Myelodysplastic Syndrome
MEL Melanoma
MLL Mixed Lineage Leukemia
MM Multiple Myeloma
MPAL Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - Multi-phenotypic
MPNST Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor
MRT Malignant Rhabdoid Tumour
MYF Myelofibrosis
NBL Neuroblastoma
NEUTP Neutropenia
NHL Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
NM Non-malignancy
NORM Control Sample
NPC Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
NPCA Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
OS Osteosarcoma
PF Posterior Fossa
PGL Paraganglioma
PHALL Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - BCR-ABL1 fusion subtype
PHCML Ph+ Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
PML Promyelocitic Leukemia
PRAD Prostate Adenocarcoma
PSO Psoriasis
RB Retinoblastoma
RCC Renal cell carcinoma
RECA Renal Cancer
RHB Rhabdomyosarcoma
SBO Spina Bifida Occulta
SCD Sickle Cell Disease
SCZ Schizophrenia
SS Synovial Sarcoma
ST Solid Tumor
STS Soft Tissue Sarcoma
TALL T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
TCP Thrombocytopenia
TESCA Testicular Cancer
THCA Thyroid Carcinoma
WLM Wilms' tumor

Similar Topics

About our Decision Process & Terminology
Making a Data Request
Managing Data Overview