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NCI Outlines Priorities for Stimulus Spending

The link has been updated in the article to reflect the new URL for the NCI page listing its public genomic health priorities. The institute changed the URL after GenomeWeb's article was published.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Cancer Institute has identified a number of priority areas for grant-seeking investigators who aim to receive funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The nine areas that NCI has labeled on its website as public genomic health priorities would advance public health genomics, but original investigator-initiated ideas are also welcomed.

The ARRA stimulus funding for NCI, as with the other institutes and centers, includes challenge grants, competitive revision applications, and supplemental funding programs.

NCI wants to receive applications from researchers who are developing a prototype knowledge base for cancer genetic associations and gene-environment interaction. A concerted approach to reviewing genetic association, gene-gene, and gene-environment interactions has been put forward by the Human Genome Epidemiology Network, said NCI.

Another priority area for NCI is development of evidence for candidate genomic applications for cancer prevention, management, and prognosis. Such an evidence-based process for evaluating genetic tests is being developed by the Evaluation of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention initiative, which was created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with NCI and other federal partners.

The institute also will welcome applications to conduct population health genomics modeling. These research programs could aim to fulfill the need for incorporating family history and genomic information into population models to study the impact of family history and genetic testing, an area NCI calls "a crucial need."

Comparative effectiveness research in genomics also is a key area for NCI support. "To date, there has been no systematic research conducted to compare the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of cancer care and prevention based on genomic tools and markers compared to existing standards of care and prevention that do not use genetic stratification tools," said NCI. "Without such research, the promise of personalized medicine may not be fulfilled."

The institute said that it intends to support research comparing the clinical validity and utility of risk-stratification tools and algorithms for cancer prediction based on genetic markers to existing algorithms. Such studies also could include comparing the clinical validity and utility of pharmacogenomic testing in cancer treatment and prophylaxis to existing treatments that do not use pharmacogenomic tests. Another use for comparative effectiveness studies would be to conduct cost-effectiveness analyses and other decision models to assess the value of genetic stratification in cancer care.

Pharmacogenomics studies also could identify and characterize validity and utility of using genetic markers for cancer care and prevention. NCI is focusing on building research opportunities in pharmacogenomic epidemiology and beginning to study how to translate discoveries to the population. An ongoing challenge will be to study whether and when matching drug therapies to patients' genetic profiles can influence their adherence to drug regimens.

NCI said that NIH is seeking a trans-disciplinary "teams-of-the-future" approach that would involve researchers from genetics, social sciences, epidemiologists, and clinicians working together to understand multiple influences on specific health disparities.

NCI also would like to fund translational research programs for genomic applications in cancer care and prevention. Such projects could include studies that evaluate the validity, utility, and impact of genomic applications in the real world, and translation programs, clinical, and community genomics activities that will help to integrate validated genomic knowledge into the practice of medicine and public health.

NCI also seeks to fund training in public health genomics, including analysis and interpretation of the evidentiary standards for genomic applications in cancer control and prevention, as well as designing and evaluating communication strategies for conveying genetic information.

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