Trans-Agency Early-Life Exposures and Cancer Working Group


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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The Trans-Agency Early-Life Exposures and Cancer (TAEEC) Working Group's mission is 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.

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The primary goals of the TAEEC Working Group are to leverage resources across government agencies to facilitate activities aimed at promoting and supporting scientific research on the role of early-life exposures and events and cancer throughout the life course.

The goals of the TAEEC Working Group are 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.
  • Propose and request funding for research that addresses the paradigm that early-life events/exposures affect cancer development across the life-course.
  • Collaborate and coordinate within trans-agency communities to issue joint program announcements on early-life events/exposures and cancer development.
  • Plan and sponsor lecture series/symposia to foster awareness, stimulate new scientific interest, and generate interdisciplinary collaborations on early-life events/exposures among both intra-mural and extramural research communities.
  • Conduct portfolio analysis to address current research funding expenditures on early-life events/exposures and cancer and to determine gaps and future needs.
  • Conduct and publish joint "state of the research" reviews on federal funding for early-life events/exposures and cancer.

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Steering Committee

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To join and participate in activities of the TAEEC Working Group, please contact Dr. Somdat Mahabir, Chair (telephone: 301-496-0270) or any member of the Steering Committee.

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