Early Life Exposures and Cancer


It is becoming increasingly evident that early-life events and exposures have important consequences for cancer development later in life. However, epidemiological studies of early-life factors and cancer development later in life have had significant methodological challenges such as the long latency period, the distinctiveness of each cancer and large number of subjects that must be studied, all likely to increase costs. These traditional hurdles might be mitigated by leveraging several existing large-scale prospective studies in the United States and globally, as well as birth databases and birth cohorts, in order to launch both association and mechanistic studies of early-life exposures and cancer development later in life. Dedicated research funding will be needed to advance this paradigm shift in cancer research and it seems justified by its potential to produce transformative understanding of how cancer develops over the life-course. This in turn has the potential to transform cancer prevention strategies through interventions in early-life rather than later in life, as is the current practice, where it is perhaps less effective.

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Funding Opportunities

NCI-sponsored Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) for research on early-life exposures and cancer include:

  • Early-life Factors and Cancer Development Later in Life (Clinical Trial Not Allowed) - expires January 8, 2021, unless reissued

EGRP joins with other NCI Divisions, Offices, and Centers and other Institutes and Centers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund grant applications submitted in response to FOAs.

View the full list of EGRP FOAs.

EGRP also encourages investigator-initiated grant applications on topics related to early life exposures and cancer.

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Trans-Agency Early-Life Exposures and Cancer Working Group

The Trans-Agency Early-Life Exposures and Cancer (TAEEC) Working Group was established in June 2012 to promote the integration of early-life events and exposures, including maternal, paternal, in utero, perinatal, childhood, pre-adolescent, and adolescent events/exposures into public health cancer research, control, prevention, and policy strategies to reduce the cancer burden in the United States and globally.

It will also serve to stimulate, facilitate, and support research on early-life events/exposures and cancer within the context of the missions of the National Cancer Institute and other NIH institutes such as the National Institute of Child Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the Office of Dietary Supplements, and other agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs.

Learn more about the TAEEC.

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