Hutchinson Center researcher secures $7.9 million NCI grant for esophageal cancer research

October 30, 2009

SEATTLE - Thomas Vaughan, M.D., head of the Epidemiology Program in the Public Health Sciences Division of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has received a three-year, $7.9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study genetic susceptibility for Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma, a rapidly fatal cancer whose incidence has increased more than 500 percent in the past 30 years, faster than any other cancer in the United States.

Vaughan and David Whiteman, Ph.D., a senior research fellow at Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia, will execute a large-scale genome-wide association study using pooled data and DNA from 18 epidemiological studies of more than 7,000 individuals making up the Barrett's and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Consortium to determine how genetic factors interplay with key environmental and personal risk factors for these conditions, including obesity, heartburn and smoking.

"The results will aid us in identifying the biological pathways that contribute to this cancer," Vaughan said. "The information also will help direct our screening, prevention and surveillance efforts to those at highest risk."

The Hutchinson Center's Genomics Resource will do the genotyping for the study, their largest project to date. Bruce Weir, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Washington School of Public Health will lead the statistical analysis team.

Genome-wide association studies involve a scan of hundreds of thousands of genetic markers across the genome in large numbers of individuals to find genetic variations associated with a particular disease. Early genome-wide scans have demonstrated considerable success in identifying genetic variants associated with common diseases.
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At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, our interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our researchers, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. For more information, please visit fhcrc.org.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

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