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The RAS Initiative - Welcome

October 20, 2014, by Dr. Harold Varmus

Harold Varmus, M.D., Former Director, National Cancer Institute

Dear Colleague,

I have argued that during these fiscally constrained times it is particularly important to pay attention to areas of cancer research that have great inherent promise, but have been understudied, neglected, paradoxical, or considered too difficult to address in the past.

The Provocative Questions initiative has been one way to draw attention to such areas of research, using workshops to define the questions and a request for applications to try to answer them. Another way to stimulate work on important but difficult problems is to take greater advantage of the Frederick National Lab for Cancer Research (FNLCR), part of the NCI’s Federally Funded Research and Development Center, operated under a contract to Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. With help from many quarters – the Frederick National Lab Advisory Committee (FNLAC), participants at scientific workshops, disease advocacy groups, and our contractors – we have recently developed an exciting initiative designed to study several aspects of RAS genes and proteins and ultimately provide better treatment for the many cancers driven by RAS mutations. The RAS Initiative is conducted through activities at both its “hub” at the FNLCR and its dispersed “spokes,” the scientific community that studies RAS throughout the country and the world.

The RAS Initiative follows the National Lab model of collaboration among government, academic, and industry researchers to attack a scientifically difficult problem of national importance, and it is the first of what I hope will be several ambitious projects fostered by the FNLCR. I have created a RAS Advisory Committee to guide our efforts on RAS and to ensure that we fully utilize the FNLCR and the entire cancer research enterprise in this program. I encourage each of you become part of the RAS community by following the progress of the RAS Initiative website.

I look forward to our continued work together, through the FNLCR and more traditional mechanisms.

Harold Varmus

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