Bioscience

IGC and TGen given lead role in cancer genome study

September 13, 2006

By Flinn Foundation

The National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute, both part of the National Institutes of Health, announced the joint selection of the International Genomics Consortium (IGC) and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) to receive a $6.6 million grant for the creation of a national tissue bank of tumor specimens.

The BCR will be managed by IGC, with TGen assisting in genomic analysis. Dr. Robert Penny, executive director of IGC’s expO program, will serve as principal investigator for the repository.

“Our selection to lead the BCR validates our ability to collect and curate cancer biospecimens and importantly, link them with the clinical outcomes and gene expression,” said Penny. “Our mission is to accelerate personalized medicine for patients through earlier diagnosis, targeted and more rational treatments, and effective prevention.”

The tissue bank, called the human cancer biospecimen core resource (BCR), is a key component of The Cancer Genome Atlas Project (TCGA), a collaborative effort to map the genomes of most forms of cancer in order to determine what triggers and prevents them.

TCGA is part of a three-year pilot project that will map the genomes of three well-known cancers—brain, lung, and ovarian—with the purpose of accelerating new discoveries and developing tools that will aid in cancer therapies, diagnostics, and preventative strategies. 

The project is considered the next phase of the Human Genome Project, a 13-year effort led in part by TGen’s president and scientific director, Dr. Jeffrey Trent.

The establishment of a national cancer tissue repository in Phoenix could help strengthen its growing reputation as a center for bioscience research.

“Our selection is a credit to the systems, people, and the innovation occurring within the biosciences throughout Arizona,” said Trent.

According to Richard Mallery, IGC’s chairman and chief executive officer, the tissue bank could draw even more bioscience industry to the state.

“They would want to be near a source of tissue samples,” explained Mallery to the Arizona Republic.

TGen and IGC were selected from a pool of 370 applicants, including some of the country’s top universities.

Their selection may have had something to do with the fact that IGC, through its Expression Project for Oncology (expO), has already established a cancer tissue bank with thousands of specimens.

“They have been doing this for awhile, and we were impressed by what they have accomplished,” said Ann Barker, deputy director of the National Cancer Institute, to Arizona Republic.

The new tissue repository will be one of four components of the Cancer Genome Atlas Project. TGen is a good candidate for the gene characterization work as well, which could potentially mean that 2 out of 4 components of the project will be in Arizona.

The BCR will be managed by IGC, with TGen assisting in genomic analysis. Robert Penny, executive director of IGC’s expO program, will serve as principal investigator for the repository.

The grant is the largest to date for IGC. If the program is successful, future funding for the tissue bank could increase substantially.


For more information:

Consortium lands big role in cancer research,” Arizona Republic, 09/13/2006

International Genomics Consortium and TGen Selected to Lead the Biospecimen Core of the Cancer Genome Atlas Pilot Project,” IGC and TGen joint press release, 09/13/2006