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NCI Awards Hutch $421K Grant to Study Gene-Environment Interaction in Colorectal Cancer

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Cancer Institute has awarded a $421,000 exploratory research grant to scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle to study the interplay of genetic and environmental factors that could cause colorectal cancer.

The researchers, led by Li Hsu, have proposed to use functional genomic data to study gene-environment interactions leading to both common and rare variants of cancer. Using novel methods to increase statistical power, the researchers said they will first examine whether common gene variants predicted to have functional importance can change the cancer risk associated with established environmental risk factors. They will also perform association testing for rare gene variants to find interactions with environmental risk factors, as well as parse particular risk factors to find interactions that could arise from different components of exposure to those factors. For example, the risk factor of cigarette smoking could be broken down into components of how long people have smoked and how much they smoke.

Additionally, the researchers are building a colorectal cancer-specific functional annotation database.

The award was granted in December and provides $230,000 in the first year and $191,000 in the second year.