Politics & Policy: March 2007

By Prachi Patel and Diane West
Published: Tuesday, Aug 17, 2010


National Human Genome Research Institute Announces Genome Sequencing Centers

for The Cancer Genome Atlas Pilot Project

The announcement of the fourth and final component of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Pilot Project came on November 20, when the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) designated three leading research and cancer centers as TCGA Genome Sequencing Centers. The Genome Sequencing Centers (GSC) form one of four integrated components of the TCGA Pilot Project. The others, seven Cancer Genome Characterization Centers, the Data Coordinating Center, and the Biospecimen Core Resource were announced earlier. (see the last issue of Oncology & Biotechnology News for more at http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/intellisphere/obn1106/.)

The NHGRI and the National Cancer Institute announced that the three sequencing centers will devote a significant part of their DNA sequencing efforts to the TCGA project, strengthening the project’s endeavors to identify the genomic changes involved in three types of tumors: brain (glioblastoma), lung, and ovarian.

The three GSCs are the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, the Genome Sequencing Center at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College or Medicine. These research centers were selected from more than 20 organizations and institutes that have contributed to the Human Genome Project. For fiscal year 2007, the NHGRI has awarded these centers funds of $48 million, $41 million and $27.6 million respectively.

The centers will be responsible for sequencing several genes and selected genomic targets that are identified by two separate approaches. The first will be “genes of interest” such as tumor repressors or oncogenes that are identified from scientific literature and by consultation with oncology experts. The other will be genes and genomic regions that the TCGA’s Cancer Genome Characterization Centers identify as candidates. To conduct these sequencing activities, the centers will receive quality-controlled samples of tumor specimens from the Human Cancer Biospecimen Core Resource.

The GSCs are also expected to test and implement a number of new technologies to increase the speed and bring down the cost of DNA sequencing. The long-term goal is to sequence the entire genome of individual tumor samples.

The centers “will play a pivotal role in our systematic effort to assess the range of genomic changes associated with malignancy,” said Mark Guyer, director of NHGRI’s Division of Extramural Research. “This genomic information will provide the research community with a powerful tool for uncovering new therapeutic targets and developing better strategies for diagnosing, treating and preventing cancer.”

Visit the TCGA website’s page on Genome Sequencing Centers at http://cancergenome. nih.gov/components/gsc.asp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      —Prachi Patel



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