The RAS Initiative
Development of the RAS Initiative at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR)
Since the early 1970s, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has been responsible for a contract that supports the only Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) devoted principally to biomedical research. Located on a government campus in Frederick, MD, the FFRDC has provided a variety of laboratory services to the scientific community, performed research in response to national needs, and supervised subcontracts for the NCI for over 40 years.
In 2011, following a suggestion by the NCI’s National Cancer Advisory Board, NCI Director Harold Varmus named the operational laboratory arm of the FFRDC Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) and established an advisory committee (now called the Frederick National Lab Advisory Committee or (FNLAC). The FNLAC recommended that the FNLCR identify and undertake important and ambitious projects in cancer research that would be difficult to pursue without an orchestrated effort. Read more about the development of the RAS Initiative.
The RAS Initiative at-a-Glance
- Initiated by NCI Director Dr. Harold Varmus in 2013, in conjunction with the Frederick National Lab Advisory Committee (FNLAC).
- Operated as a research hub based at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) in Frederick, MD, with spokes reaching into all corners of the extramural research community.
- Intended to deepen knowledge of several aspects of RAS genes – their protein products, their role in cell signaling, and their functions in health and disease – with the explicit goals of improving treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of the many human cancers driven by mutant RAS genes.
- Funded with existing resources committed to the FNLCR, a major component of NCI’s Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC).
- Involves all sectors of the NCI research community.
- Led by Dr. Frank McCormick, a distinguished RAS investigator from the University of California, San Francisco, and managed by Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc., the lead contractor for NCI’s FFRDC.
What’s Happening Now
Dr. Cyril Benes describes his lab's efforts to correlate genotypes and other molecular data with drug sensitivities in hundreds of cell lines derived from human tumors and Dr. Mariano Barbacid describes how engineered mouse models are being used to understand the role of KRAS in human cancers.
Ten presentations from the symposium "Targeting RAS Now for Future Cancer Therapy," held at the University of California, San Francisco, June 19th and 20th, 2014, are now available.
Dr. Frank McCormick discusses his vision for the RAS Initiative and encourages collaboration among the 1,500 labs worldwide that work on the RAS pathways every day.
Dr. Der asks why different RAS proteins are implicated in different human cancers in his new, in-depth commentary.