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Calling all cancer researchers

Last year, it occurred to us that there was so much cancer research going on that we didn’t have a good way to cover it all. Sure, we could write an article here and there, but that couldn’t do justice to the rapidfire innovations taking place in the various fields that comprise systems biology.

So we decided to try out a special issue —

GT’s first theme magazine — that would focus primarily on the major advances and most interesting or promising research targeted at understanding, treating, or preventing cancer. It struck a chord with our audience; throughout the rest of 2005, as we rotated magazine cover images on our sister website, the cancer issue remained the one most likely to draw clicks.

A year later, we present the second of what is now an annual cancer-theme tradition. To differentiate this from last year’s issue, we focused only on advances and events that have occurred in the last 12 months. That left us with no shortage of ideas, as the past year proved particularly fruitful for the cancer research community. NHGRI and NCI launched a joint $100 million pilot program that aims to be the very beginning of the much-ballyhooed cancer genome project. Major cancer institutes such as Dana-Farber and the Hutch have kicked off new proteomics and computational biology centers, respectively. And in proteomic and genomic labs around the world, we’re happy to report, the streak of groundbreaking cancer science shows no sign of ending. That story begins on p. 29.

To round out the theme, we offer an Informatics Insider column. Columnist Brian Gilman, who made his name during his tenure at what is now the Broad Institute and currently runs his own bioinformatics consulting services company, describes the Semantic Web for Life Sciences with a look at how it could be of particular benefit to the cancer research community (see p. 18). Our Pattern Recognition on page 39 is devoted to grants issued by NCI, and new for this year we filled our deadlines page with submission and other important dates for cancer-related grant opportunities (p. 57).

Not necessarily into cancer? We’ve still got plenty to offer with this issue. Don’t miss our feature article on high-density microarrays and the bioinformatics challenges they’ve opened up. If you’re using or considering using these chips, this article will help you figure out what kinds of compute resources and analysis tools you’ll need — and will tell you what shortcomings you should expect to find in the software that’s out there.

While we were preparing this issue, senior writer Jen Crebs came dangerously close to destroying her own Xbox 360 in the interest of good journalism (with a generous splash of scientific curiosity). Jen authored this month’s high-performance computing article (see p. 20), which looks into a new kind of programming designed to speed up the ubiquitous Blast algorithm using the same kind of inexpensive video card you’d find in your computer or a standard video gaming system.

What do you think of Genome Technology? Let me know how we’re doing by e-mailing me at [email protected] or by calling me at +1.212.651.5635.


The Scan

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Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

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Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.