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Fred Hutchinson Gets Stimulus Funding for Cancer Projects

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center will use $16 million in stimulus funding to work with the University of Washington and Group Health Research Institute in conducting comparative effectiveness research for cancer.

The cancer center also said that it has received over $40 million in total stimulus funding for 60 research grants, with some of those supporting 'omics studies.

The Hutch will use four National Institutes of Health Grand Opportunity grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's $1.1 billion comparative effectiveness program to fund studies of how effective cancer diagnostics, screening, and treatments work.

"We are spending multiple billions on cancer diagnostics and hundreds of millions on genetic tests, for example, but we're not certain what we're getting for all of that money," Hutch internist and health care economist Scott Ramsey said in a statement. "Are patients living longer? Are they living better quality lives? We just don't have that answer."

One $4 million collaborative study with UW will fund development of an infrastructure to support the "Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research," or CANCERGEN, a public-private consortium that will conduct clinical trials of "promising" genetic tests.

Another $4 million project based at the UW School of Public Health will fund studies that evaluate the effectiveness of cancer diagnostics. The Advancing Innovative Comparative Effectiveness Research in Cancer Diagnostics program will evaluate diagnostics based on blood and tissue-based biomarkers, as well as imaging diagnostics.

"Over the past decade, the field of both medical imaging and laboratory-based diagnostics has taken a quantum leap forward. However, the evidence to determine how to best use these modern technologies in clinical practice hasn't kept pace with the technological developments," Larry Kessler, chair of the UW Department of Health Services, said in a statement.

"Our research will help providers and patients make better decisions about the use of these technologies, which ultimately will lead to the best possible outcomes," he said.

Two other $4 million GO grants will fund studies of how cancer screening and treatment work in "real-world settings," and studies of breast cancer imaging technologies.

The Hutch also has received other cancer research funding under ARRA, including over $9 million to support two genomics and proteomics-focused research programs.

Under one $4.8 million grant, Hutch Clinical Research Associate Amanda Paulovich will study the feasibility and scalability of a human proteome detection and measurement project.

"The lack of sensitive, specific assays that can measure multiple proteins at the same time in a single sample is a major technical barrier that impedes progress in the biomedical sciences by prohibiting hypothesis testing in quantitative proteomics, where relationships between protein abundance and biology are sought," Paulovich said.

A "robust and economical" complete protein measurement method could have "a profound impact on health care costs and outcomes," she added.

Another $4.6 million grant to Hutch's Public Health Sciences Division Associate Ulrike Peters will fund studies to identify genetic variants associated with colorectal cancer.

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