EGRP News Flash - August 13, 2010

NCI Funds New Initiative To Investigate Suspected Cancer-Causing Genetic Variants

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded five cooperative agreements for transdisciplinary research projects to exploit findings from existing genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and accelerate new discoveries. These awards were made in response to RFA-CA-09-002, Transdisciplinary Cancer Genomics Research: Post Genome-Wide Association Initiative (U19).

GWAS involves rapidly scanning markers across the complete sets of DNA, or genomes, of many people to find genetic variations associated with a particular disease. Such studies have identified many common genetic variants that may be associated with cancer. Post-GWAS research is defined as the transition from the initial genome-wide discovery to replication studies, epidemiologic examination of gene-gene and gene-environment interactions, and to the biological validation of the GWAS findings.

"This Initiative brings together multidisciplinary teams of epidemiologists, basic scientists, and clinicians, to collaborate on investigating genomic regions that have been implicated in susceptibility to breast, colon, ovarian, prostate, and lung cancer," said Deborah Winn, Ph.D., Deputy Director of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS).

The Post-GWAS Initiative will rapidly move forward promising leads from initial cancer GWAS by replicating prior findings, better pinpointing genomic regions that cause cancer, and unraveling the function of genetic variants and how environmental factors may influence the genetic effect, to set the stage for translating these findings into clinical and prevention applications.

The contact principal investigators and their projects are:

  • Christopher Amos, Ph.D., The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Transdisciplinary Research in Cancer of the Lung (TRICL);
  • Brian Henderson, M.D., University of Southern California Elucidating Loci Involved in Prostate Cancer Susceptibility (ELLIPSE);
  • David Hunter, Sc.D., Harvard University Discovery, Biology, and Risk of Inherited Variants in Breast Cancer;
  • Thomas Sellers, Ph.D., M.P.H., H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute Follow-up of Ovarian Cancer Genetic Association and Interaction Studies (FOCI); and
  • Stephen Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., University of Michigan ColoRectal Transdisciplinary Study (CORECT).

This Post-GWAS Initiative is one of the many ways in which EGRP works to facilitate and support development of cancer epidemiology consortia.

To maximize scientific benefits and impact of the program, participants in this Initiative must agree to data sharing requirements as outlined in the general NIH policy for sharing GWAS-related dataExternal Web Site Policy.

The Initiative is sponsored by DCCPS and the Division of Cancer Biology (DCB). The DCCPS Project Officers for cancer epidemiology questions related to this Initiative are the Epidemiology and Genetics Research Program's (EGRP) Elizabeth M. Gillanders, Ph.D., Chief, Host Susceptibility Factors Branch; and Daniela Seminara, Ph.D., M.P.H., Scientific Consortia Coordinator. DCB's Project Officers for basic science questions are Jennifer Couch, Ph.D., Chief, Structural Biology and Molecular Applications Branch, e-mail:; and Cheryl Marks, Ph.D., Division Associate Director, e-mail:

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