EGRP News Flash - January 13, 2011

PhenX Toolkit Available for Measuring and Reporting Physical Traits and Environmental Exposures in Research Studies

On behalf of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Epidemiology and Genetics Research Program (EGRP) is pleased to announce the release of the completed version of the free online “PhenX Toolkit” to help researchers consistently measure and report physical traits and environmental exposures.

The PhenX Toolkit (a combination of Phenotype and eXposures) provides nearly 300 standard measures and protocols across 21 different research areas. These measures are for use in genome-wide association and other large-scale research studies. Researchers may wish to visit the toolkit to review and select PhenX measures when designing a new study or expanding an ongoing study.

These measures and protocols will bolster efforts to compare data from multiple studies, thereby accelerating efforts to understand the complex genetic and environmental factors that contribute to cancer and other diseases. They were selected over the past three years by working groups of more than 200 scientists from diverse scientific and health disciplines, including many participants from NIH Institutes and Centers, using a consensus-based process.

The cancer domain has measures in 12 areas: cancer screening, cancer treatments, personal and family history of cancer, cumulative lifetime exposures for alcohol and physical activity, exogenous female hormone use, medications, ovulation history, passive smoking exposure, personal perception and knowledge of smoking-related cancer risk, pre-existing conditions associated with cancer, and smoking quit attempts.

For each measure, the toolkit has associated protocol(s), references, and links to resources. It also has tools, such as data collection worksheets, to help researchers integrate PhenX measures into their study designs.

The toolkit allows researchers to expand a study beyond the primary research focus by adding PhenX measures to the study design. As more and more researchers incorporate PhenX measures into their studies, combining and comparing studies will become easier and more statistically powerful, thus allowing detection of moderate genetic associations and more complex associations such as gene-gene and gene-environment.

The toolkit is available at www.phenxtoolkit.orgExternal Web Site Policy. It is funded by NHGRI in collaboration with the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR).

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