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NCI to Provide $90M for Cancer Genome Atlas Centers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The National Cancer Institute has committed up to $90 million over the next five years to support between four and ten new centers to advance its Cancer Genome Atlas program.
The institute will spend as much as $18 million in 2009 for between two and four Genome Characterization Centers, and between two and six Genome Data Analysis Centers in order to roll out the next phase of the CGA program.
The main aim of the coming phase of the CGA is to provide genome-wide catalogs of genomic alterations for between 20 and 25 types of human cancer. These alterations could then be used to identify and accelerate development of new diagnostic and prognostic markers, new targets for drug interventions, and new cancer prevention and treatment strategies.
NCI sees the CGA as a “unique reference resource on cancer-specific genomic aberrations for the cancer research community at large,” according to NCI’s funding announcement.
The CGA’s Pilot Project began in 2006 through a collaboration with the National Human Genome Research Institute designed to determine the feasibility of cataloging genomic alterations associated with cancer, with a focus on glioblastoma multiforme, serous cystadenocarcinoma of the ovary, and squamous carcinoma of the lung.
That project succeeded in demonstrating that cancer-associated genes and genomic regions can be identified by combining genomic information with biological and clinical data, and that sequencing certain regions can be efficient and cost-effective, NCI explained.
The central aim for the interactive group of Genome Characterization Centers will be to use genomic and epigenomics analysis technologies for high-resolution genome-wide characterization of cancer-related alterations in the genome.
These centers will use high-throughput technologies to analyze defined sets of cancer biospecimens to be provided by the Biospecimen Core Resource. These centers will develop four types of data, including raw data, processed data, segmented data, and summary data.
The main goals for the two to six Genome Data Analysis Centers will be to develop two types of analytical pipelines. One goal is to develop and implement bioinformatics systems using available tools, quality control measures, and bioinformatics tools for high-throughput processing and analysis of genome-wide data.
The second aim is to create a “biology-centric” computational pipeline for more advanced analyses to develop models and to identify potential translational directions and outcomes from the CGA data. One type of pipeline is designed to integrate the CGA data via a high-throughput pipeline. The second pipeline will use novel algorithms, models, and other bioinformatics and computational tools to provide biologically relevant results from the CGA data.
In order to fulfill these goals there will be two types of Genome Data Analysis Centers. One will perform data integration, and another type will conduct higher levels of translational genomic analysis. All of these centers will work together to develop strategies for data management, determine the types of analysis to be performed, and optimize the mechanisms for communicating information back to those who participated in the project.
More information about the TCAG funding announcement is available here.

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