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The Cancer Issue


In most issues of this magazine, we strive to give you an overview of as many fields as possible. You tell us that this helps you see the big picture of large-scale biology, and we’re glad to do it. But for this issue, we’re trying something different.

As cancer research represents a more and more significant chunk of systems biology, we here at Genome Technology have been torn over the best way to cover it. There are breakthroughs in the field all the time, and if we reported on all of them as they occurred, we’d never have space to write about anything else. Still, simply doing a cover story on cancer research seemed an inadequate vehicle to write about such an important and rapidly growing field.

Our solution — which I hope you’ll agree is a good one — is this first-ever special issue of GT devoted to cancer. More and more conferences that we attend have added tracks just for cancer, and it hasn’t escaped our attention that those talks are often the best attended. What is perhaps most interesting about cancer is that it seems to be the first major disease on which war is being waged on all fronts by systems biology: genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, RNAi, you name it. Because of this, cancer may be the first opportunity for scientists to prove the much-heralded power and promise of a truly large-scale, system-wide biological approach.

In addition to our cover story, a series of profiles of some of the most exciting and innovative cancer-related efforts and scientists, you’ll find more information about this field in our Markers news section and our Pattern Recognition funding page, which focuses this month on NCI grants. Of course, no cancer report is complete without a look downstream at the FDA — and our feature story this month takes you inside that agency and its new genomics division.

Also in this issue you’ll find the first of our roundtable discussions on this year’s systems biology theme. We were delighted to host a panel including researchers from academia, government, and pharma, and we think you’ll find their comments on the challenges facing systems biology thought-provoking.

This month you’ll see Whitehead computational biologist Fran Lewitter and her colleague George Bell co-authoring our software review column, Informatics Insider, again. Our new panel of experts will rotate in three-month cycles. We are also lucky to have bioinformatics experts Tim Clark from Massachusetts General and Ron Beavis of Beavis Informatics in our lineup — be sure to look for their columns in upcoming issues of the magazine.


Meredith W. Salisbury, Editor

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

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

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

Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

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.