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Director's Note - March 2010

, by Daniela S. Gerhard, Ph.D.

Daniela S. Gerhard headshot circa 2010

Dr. Daniela S. Gerhard, Director, NCI Office of Cancer Genomics

Dear Colleague:

Welcome to the first National Cancer Institute (NCI) Office of Cancer Genomics (OCG) electronic newsletter. We are proud to launch this new communication tool to provide updates on ongoing projects, announce new projects, and highlight how OCG's efforts further the NCI mission to improve the lives of cancer patients by advancing the understanding of cancer's mechanisms at the molecular level.

NCI founded OCG in 1996 to examine molecular changes in cancer cells and to synthesize collection of data and reagents—ultimately working toward making this critical information publicly available. In an effort to also make this data “user-friendly,” OCG developed novel analytical methods for investigators to implement. This community approach to science continues to enhance global scientific efforts, and this free access policy underlies all of OCG's ongoing projects. Thanks to the rapid and easy access to data, researchers are able to integrate their own results with colleagues' findings, helping to accelerate the translation of basic data for the benefit of patients.

Among many diverse efforts to advance cancer research and treatment, the NCI supports three strategic projects in cancer genomic characterization:

These efforts aim to provide a comprehensive description of changes that occur in each cancer patient, determine the specific patterns that help to distinguish cancer subtypes with associated clinical criteria, and make all information available through an openly accessible data portal. The data generated by these projects promise to revolutionize our approach to cancer research in the next decade and are expected to dramatically accelerate our understanding of cancer. President Obama's recently-announced 2011 budget proposal underscores the significance of these projects: “The Budget will support the completion of a comprehensive catalog of cancer mutations for the 20 most common malignancies, setting the stage for complete genomic characterization of every cancer as part of medical care within 10 years.”

Furthermore, the translation of these large scale data “from bench to bedside” is under way, supported by the OCG initiative called the Cancer Target Discovery and Development Network (CTD2 Network).

OCG projects enable and integrate ongoing research developed by other NCI divisions. Our overarching goal is to use public resources efficiently to benefit patients in the U.S. and globally by developing therapies that individualize treatment with maximum efficacy and safety.

During President Obama's visit to NCI, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins boldly said, “We are about to see a quantum leap in our understanding of cancer.” The OCG team enthusiastically agrees and appreciates your interest in following this transformative journey through the stories in our newsletters.


Daniela S. Gerhard, Ph.D.
Director, NCI Office of Cancer Genomics

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