Genetic Susceptibility to Cancer


The Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP) is a strong supporter of epidemiology studies investigating genetic susceptibility to cancer across all populations, including family studies, candidate gene studies, genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and use of next generation sequencing techniques to identify variants associated with specific cancers. Such studies have identified many genetic variants that may be associated with cancer.

To further our understanding of cancer etiology and outcomes, the Program also supports studies to determine the function of identified cancer risk variants associated with specific cancers, especially in high risk or under-served populations. EGRP is also interested in research investigating gene-gene and gene-environment interactions and the integration of germline and somatic information as it contributes to understanding of cancer etiology and outcomes.

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Funded Projects

View EGRP's grants portfolioExternal Web Site Policy.

In addition to supporting investigator-initiated grants, EGRP staff manage and provide technical assistance for several ongoing grant-supported initiatives and research resource contracts in the area of genomic epidemiology, including:

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Funding Opportunities

Challenges Sponsored by EGRP

EGRP is partnering with SAGE Bionetworks to launch "Up for a Challenge (U4C)—Stimulating Innovation in Breast Cancer Genetic Epidemiology" to encourage innovative approaches to more fully explain the genomic basis of breast cancer. Up to $50,000 in prizes will be awarded based on the identification of novel findings, replication of findings, innovation of approach, evidence of novel biological hypotheses, and collaboration.

In order to complete the Challenge, participants will have access to genetic epidemiologic data from thousands of breast cancer cases and controls from ethnically diverse populations. Some of these data sets are being made available for researchers for the first time for this challenge. Note: U4C participants will need to request data access through NIH's Database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP)External Web Site Policy. Learn more about the data access request process.

Visit the U4C websiteExternal Web Site Policy for more information about the U4C application, due dates, rules, and other FAQs. An archived webinar and slidesExternal Web Site Policy are available that provide an overview of the Challenge, how to apply for U4C data using dbGaP, and how to download and decrypt U4C data from dbGaP.

Funding Opportunity Announcements

NCI-sponsored Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) related to genetic epidemiology include:

  • Ethical, Legal, Social Implications of Human Genome Research – expires September 8, 2017, unless reissued
  • Genomic Resource Grants for Community Resource Projects – expires January 26, 2017, unless reissued

EGRP also encourages investigator-initiated grant applications on genetic susceptibility to cancer. It also joins with other NCI Divisions, and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund grant applications submitted in response to FOAs.

View the full list of EGRP FOAs.

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Research Resources

  • Genomic Resources
    Includes links to collaborative initiatives, datasets, and NIH policy information related to population-based genetics research.
  • Genetic Simulation Resources (GSR)External Web Site Policy
    A searchable catalogue of genetic simulation programs (coming soon).
  • Risk Prediction Models
    Information about various types of cancer risk prediction models, including compilation of existing risk prediction models by cancer type. Some are gene carrier risk status prediction models.
  • Biospecimen Resources for Cancer Epidemiologists
    This list provides links to biospecimen resources that may be of interest to cancer epidemiologists.
  • Cancer Epidemiology Cohorts
    Cohorts are powerful tools with the potential to address scientific questions not amenable, or unlikely to be addressed, by other study designs like prevention or clinical trials. Evidence generated has also been useful in providing the basis for the design and testing of many preventive, therapeutic, and health policy interventions.
  • Cancer Research Consortia
    EGRP supports a growing number of national and international research consortia focusing on intradisciplinary and translational research on common and rare cancers, many of which are investigating genetic variants associated with cancer. The sharing of data and other resources by consortia members enables rapid replication of research results from individual studies and increases the statistical power of analyses.

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EGRP co-sponsors meetings and workshops to convene experts in the fields of cancer epidemiology and genetics research to review the state of the science, identify research gaps, and establish scientific agendas and priorities for the future, such as:

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Danielle Carrick, Ph.D., M.H.S. - Immunology and infectious diseases affecting cancer risk; pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacogenomics; biospecimen research; translational genomics

Elizabeth M. Gillanders, Ph.D. - Genetic epidemiology of cancer

Damali N. Martin, Ph.D., M.P.H. - Cancer health disparities research, molecular epidemiology of breast and prostate cancer in populations of African descent

Leah E. Mechanic, Ph.D., M.P.H. - Gene-gene and gene-environment interactions, biospecimen science, molecular epidemiology of lung cancer, hematological malignancies, and endometrial cancer

Stefanie A. Nelson, Ph.D. - Genetic differences affecting cancer risk and response to treatment, understanding the function of cancer risk variants, and interactions between the germline and somatic cancer genomes

Krista A. Zanetti, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D. - Molecular epidemiology of lung and colon cancer, genome-wide association studies, use of emerging technologies in epidemiology studies, biological determinants of health disparities associated with cancer

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