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NCI Awards $9M to OSU-IU Center for Cancer Systems Biology for Epigenetic Research

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Ohio State University and Indiana University will use a $9 million award from the National Cancer Institute to continue studies on cancer genes and the epigenetic agents that mask their expression.

Over the next five years, researchers from both universities will study epigenetic changes in prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer cells that cause resistance to hormonal therapy or traditional chemotherapy.

“A major objective is to identify a panel of epigenetic biomarkers for predicting responsiveness to anti-hormone treatments and chemotherapies in cancer patients,” the universities said in a statement.

Cancer geneticist Timothy Huang of the OSU School of Medicine and cancer biologist Kenneth Nephew of the IU School of Medicine co-administer the OSU-IU Center for Cancer Systems Biology and its project, "Interrogating Epigenetic Changes in Cancer Genomes." The center uses integrated computational and experimental approaches to study epigenetic mechanisms that control signaling networks in prostate, breast, and ovarian cancers.

The project began in 2004 with about $8 million from NCI. During that initial funding period, the center studied epigenetic processes associated with neoplastic transformation of normal cells into cancer cells. Researchers demonstrated that disruption of key networks contribute to the development of breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer, and developed mathematical models based on experimental data, according to the universities.

Also in the initial funding period, the OSU-IU center hosted 14 summer programs and co-organized two systems biology meetings. Center staff trained 137 undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students and supported the activities of more than a dozen short- and long-term visitors. The activity is part of the center’s “Education Core,” which trains scientists to conduct integrated cancer research.

The OSU-IU center is among 11 that have received new or continued funding this year through the NCI's Integrative Cancer Biology Program.

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