The Cohort Consortium is an extramural-intramural partnership formed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to address the need for large-scale collaborations to pool the large quantity of data and biospecimens necessary to conduct a wide range of cancer studies. The Consortium, through its collaborative network of investigators, provides a coordinated, interdisciplinary approach to tackling important scientific questions, economies of scale, and opportunities to quicken the pace of research.
The mission of the Cohort Consortium is to:
- Foster communication among investigators leading cohort studies of cancer;
- Promote collaborative research projects for topics not easily addressed in a single study; and
- Identify common challenges in cohort research and search for solutions.
The Cohort Consortium includes investigators responsible for more than 40 high-quality cohorts involving more than 4 million people. The cohorts are international in scope and cover large, rich, and diverse populations. Extensive risk factor data are available on each cohort, and biospecimens including germline DNA collected at baseline, are available on more than 2 million individuals. Investigators team up to use common protocols and methods, and to conduct coordinated parallel and pooled analyses.
- Defined epidemiologic cohort:
- Minimum of 10,000 participants
- Cancer occurrence accurately assessed
- Some risk factor data
- Commitment to scientific collaboration:
- Willing to contribute data
- Voluntary membership
- Voluntary participation in any specific consortium project
The Cohort Consortium membership is international in scope. It includes investigators responsible for more than 40 cohorts who are studying large and diverse populations in more than 15 different countries.
Signature Initiatives and Other Projects
Cohort Consortium members have launched dozens of initiatives, including the following signature initiatives:
- The Diabetes and Cancer Initiative in the Cohort Consortium, initiated in 2013, seeks to understand the relationship of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) with cancer incidence and survival, both in terms of epidemiology and underlying molecular mechanisms. The project will investigate the association of T2DM with all major cancers, and whether this association is modified by gender, ethnicity, body size, physical activity, smoking, diet, alcohol consumption or menopausal status. The study also will investigate the association of diabetes treatments with cancer incidence and survival. An additional aim will be to identify genetic and metabolic predictors of cancer risk among diabetics.
- The African American Body Mass Index (BMI) and Mortality Pooling Project, formed in 2011, has its first project looking at anthropometric measures in relation to all-cause mortality in African Americans. The goal is to assess the relation of body mass index to all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular disease mortality in African American men and women. This study includes 7 cohorts, each with at least 10,000 African American participants. Limited NCI extramural funds support data harmonization and preparation of analysis datasets.
- The Lung Cancer Cohort Consortium began in 2009 with the principal aim to evaluate the importance of one-carbon metabolism in lung cancer etiology and risk prediction. This will be achieved by bringing together plasma/serum samples and DNA from 5,100 prospectively collected lung cancer cases with individually matched controls from members of the NCI Cohort Consortium. Biochemical analysis will be performed in a central laboratory in Bergen, Norway, including a large panel of B-vitamins and further metabolites related to one-carbon-metabolism. More than 20 prospective cohorts are each contributing at least 200 case-control pairs. Funding is provided through an NCI grant. Supplemental funds to perform biochemical analysis of circulating vitamin D (25(OH)D) in the same laboratory in Norway is being explored.
- The BMI and All Cause Mortality Pooling Project, formed in 2007, is a collaborative effort among 19 prospective epidemiologic studies, encompassing 1.46 million adults, to examine and quantify the relationship between BMI and all-cause mortality.
- The Vitamin D Pooling Project (VDPP) is a nested case-control study that analyzed associations between serum vitamin D concentrations (25(OH)D) and development of certain rarer cancers – endometrial, esophageal, stomach, ovarian, pancreatic, and kidney cancers, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The study included data from more than 12,000 samples from 10 participating cohorts. The participation of eight cohorts was funded by EGRP, and two of the cohorts were supported by NCI's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG).
- The Pancreatic Cancer Cohort Consortium was formed in 2006 and has conducted two genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The studies have led to the discovery of novel regions in the genome associated with risk for pancreatic cancer. Additional epidemiologic and genetic studies using data from these initial studies are now under way. This Consortium includes pancreatic cancer cases and controls from prospective epidemiologic cohorts and hospital-based case-control studies. Funding is provided through grant support from the Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP) in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) for the extramural cohorts and by (DCEG) for its two participating cohorts.
- The Breast and Prostate Cancer Cohort Consortium (BPC3) began in 2003 and was first funded to conduct collaborative studies of hormone-related gene variants and environmental factors involved in the development of breast and prostate cancer. This research involved 10 cohorts and pooled data on 8,850 patients with prostate cancer and 6,160 patients with breast cancer. The goal was to characterize common variations in about 55 candidate genes that mediate the steroid hormone metabolism and insulin-like growth factor signaling pathways, and associate these variations with cancer risk. In 2007, the BPC3 Consortium received funding from the NCI to expand the number of cases/controls to 14,000 and 16,000 for breast and prostate cancer, respectively, and utilize a genome-wide association approach to identify genetic variants that may be associated with estrogen receptor negative (ER-) breast cancer, as well as aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
Other Cohort Consortium projects that may be of interest:
- List of active projects
- List of completed projects
- Criteria for evaluation of Cohort Consortium pooling projects and actions/implications
- Project proposal online form
The 2013 Cohort Consortium Annual Meeting was held November 18-19 in Rockville, MD. View the agenda.
The 2012 Cohort Consortium Annual Meeting was held October 24-26, 2012 at Natcher Conference Center on the NIH Campus in Bethesda, MD. View the agenda for the Symposium on October 25, 2012 and the Business Meetings on October 24-26, 2012.
A Symposium was held on October 25, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. in the NIH's Natcher Conference Center in Bethesda, MD. The Symposium, "When Bigger is Better: Combining and Designing Cohorts for Power" was jointly sponsored by the Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP) of the NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS), and the NCI's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG). Those who were unable to participate in person may view an NIH videocast of the Symposium.
View information about past meetings:
Contact Nonye Harvey, M.P.H., EGRP Coordinator for questions related to the Cohort Consortium.