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NCI Funds 17 Early Detection Research Network Biomarker Development Laboratories, Sustaining the Momentum of Biomarker Discovery

  • Posted: November 19, 2004

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded $9.8 million in first year funding for 17 Biomarkers Developmental Laboratories within the Early Detection Research Network (EDRN). Biomarkers are substances found in the blood, other body fluids, or tissues that alone or in combination may signal the presence of cancer or the risk for cancer. The newly funded laboratories' role within the EDRN is to discover new biomarkers relevant to major cancers and to identify what combinations of biomarkers may best detect the presence or risk of cancer.

This award marks the second round of 5-year funding for components of the network. Of 68 applications received to be Biomarker Developmental Laboratories, 22 were rated as excellent to outstanding and 17 were selected for funding. About 40 percent of grantees are new to the network, which began in 1999. New laboratories are noted in the chart below with an asterisk (*).

The other components of the EDRN are Biomarker Validation Laboratories, which work to validate the biomarker tests; Clinical and Epidemiologic Centers, which conduct the early phases of clinical and epidemiological research on the application of biomarkers; and the Data Management and Coordinating Center, which provides logistical, informatics, and statistical development and support.

These new Biomarker Developmental Laboratories face one of the biggest challenges in biomarker research: searching through hundreds of samples using a variety of technologies to identify candidate biomarkers. These investigators will examine the human genome (genetic material), proteome (proteins made by genes), epitome (immune response biomarkers via antibody-antigen patterns), and metabolome (metabolic pathways and regulation), looking for potential ways to identify cancer and cancer risk. In a quest to discover cancer at the earliest stage of progression, biomarkers often are used as mileposts of cancer progression. They mark critical events along the progression pathway from normal cell, to precancerous cell, to malignant cell.

"The Biomarkers Developmental Laboratories are a critical partner in NCI's effort to rapidly discover and evaluate biomarkers for clinical applications," said Sudhir Srivastava, Ph.D., chief of the Cancer Biomarker Research Group in NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention, home of the EDRN. "This new pool of funded investigators is applying cutting edge technologies to accelerate discovery at an unprecedented rate. The synergized power of DNA arrays, protein arrays, and bioinformatics are being used to help decipher hundreds of thousands of leads to discover unique signatures for early cancer."

"There is great promise in using biomarkers for early detection of cancer," said Anna Barker, Ph.D., NCI Deputy Director for Advanced Technologies and Strategic Partnerships. "EDRN provides the necessary collaborative platform and the systematic approach to validation of potential biomarkers that will ultimately bring biomarker diagnostic tests for cancer into the clinic."

Principal Investigator Institution
(alphabetic by last name)
* = new grantee
Organ Focus
William L. Bigbee, Ph.D.
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Center
Pittsburgh, Pa.
ColonProteomicsPredicant Biosciences
Timothy Block, Ph.D.
Drexel University
Philadelphia, Pa.
Xenomics, Inc.,
Immunotype, Inc.
*Paul Cairns, Ph.D.
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Philadelphia, Pa.
*Arul Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Mich.
ProstateGenomics, Proteomics, Libraries and Immune ResponseGMP Companies, Inc.
Bogdan A.Czerniak, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Texas
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas
*Laura J. Esserman, M.D., M.B.A.
University of California
San Francisco, Calif.
BreastGenomics and ProteomicsSequenom, Biotrue, BD Biosciences, Celera Diagnostics, Predicant Biosciences, ChromaVision
Wilbur A. Franklin, M.D.
University of Colorado Health
Science Center
Denver, Colo.
Adi F. Gazdar, M.D.
University of Texas Southwestern
Medical Center
Dallas, Texas
LungGenomics and ProteomicsRules-Based Medicine
Samir Hanash, M.D., Ph.D.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer
Research Center
Seattle, Wash.
Lung and othersProteomics and AutoAbs 
*Michael Hollingsworth, Ph.D.
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, Neb.
PancreasProteomics and Mice Models
*Anne M. Killary, Ph.D.
University of Texas
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas
*Alvin Y. Liu, Ph.D.
University of Washington
Seattle, Wash.
Prostate and BladderProteomicsMacroGenics Inc.
Jeffery R. Marks, Ph.D.
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, N.C.
(Gene Expression), Proteomics
Abbott Laboratories
Diagnostic Division
Stephen J. Meltzer, Ph.D.
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Baltimore, Md.
EsophagusGenomic and Proteomics 
*Hemant K. Roy, M.D.
Evanston Northwestern Research Institute Evanston, Ill.
ColonSpecial imaging 
J. Oliver Semmes, Ph.D.
Eastern Virginia Medical School
Norfolk, Va.
Predicant Biosciences
David Sidransky, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Md.
LungGenomicsOncomethylome Sciences, Affymetrix