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UNC's Cancer Center Receives Funding As Part of Cancer Genome Project

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of seven centers that have been selected to participate in the Cancer Genome Atlas project.

The National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute are funding the effort. The project’s goal is to characterize and chart molecular changes in specific types of cancer.

UNC researchers will receive $1.6 million of the $11.7 million awarded to the seven Cancer Genome Characterization Centers for the project. The program is part of a three-year, $100 million National Institutes of Health effort to identify genetic changes involved in cancer.

The Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center is part of the UNC School of Medicine.

UNC researchers are tasked with changes identified in what are called transcription profiles, or transmission of genetic data, that occur in cancer.

"This is a great opportunity for us as scientists and translational researchers to be involved in this next generation of genetic-medicine-based national health initiatives," said Charles Perou, assistant professor of genetics and pathology and laboratory medicine and UNC's principal investigator for the project. "We hope to discover new cancer-causing genes and biomarkers that could have a big impact upon patient care."

Other researchers involved are David Hayes and Michael Topal.

"We are, today, gaining new insights into the genetic changes that accumulate over a lifetime and are associated with malignancy,” said NCI Director John E. Niederhuber. "The Cancer Genome Atlas holds the potential to help turn what we know into what we can harness -- to be able to study changes in a patient's genetic sequence over time and then use that information to design highly targeted, individually based interventions."

Other centers will be funded at the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.; Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Mass; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif.; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, N.Y.; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.; the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, Md.; and Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, Calif.

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