News Releases

NCI Awards Nearly $6 Million to Hutchinson Center to Establish Northwest Cancer Genetics Network

Sept. 3, 1998 The National Cancer Institute has announced that the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle will receive nearly $6 million over the next five years to develop a regional genetics network that will be part of the NCI's newly established Cancer Genetics Network, or CGN.
     Spurred by recent advances in human genetics research, this nationwide network of eight centers is being created to support a broad range of basic, clinical and public health studies in a quest to better understand genetic and environmental cancer risk factors and develop new strategies to prevent the disease.
     A partner in this effort will be the Northwest Cancer Genetics Network, a collaboration between the Hutchinson Center and the University of Washington, among other local organizations. During the next five years, the Northwest network will collect information and genetic material from up to 20,000 potential study participants throughout the Puget Sound region for inclusion in a national data registry to be accessed by genetics researchers nationwide. This approach will speed the research process, as the pooling of volunteers from the individual CGN centers will make it possible to have sufficient numbers of study participants available to answer important scientific questions.
     The Northwest network also will provide genetics expertise across a wide variety of disciplines relevant to the function of the national network, from clinical and molecular genetics to epidemiology, biostatistics and genetic counseling.
     "The Northwest's contribution to the CGN as a whole is only possible because of the contributions and expertise of the entire group, including especially the University of Washington collaborators," says principal investigator John D. Potter, M.D., Ph.D., head of the Hutchinson Center's Cancer Prevention Research Program in the Division of Public Health Sciences and professor of epidemiology at the UW School of Public Health and Community Medicine. "The Northwest is uniquely placed because of the extraordinary depth of relevant talent in the genetics area," says Potter, who heads the Northwest network along with co-principal investigators Lee Hartwell, Ph.D., president and director of the Hutchinson Center and professor of genetics at UW; and Robert W. Day, M.D., Ph.D., president and director emeritus of the Hutchinson Center and professor of health services at UW.
     Recruitment into the registry will begin by the end of the year. Those sought for participation include people who have expressed an interest in genetic screening or counseling for cancer and those with a strong family history of breast, ovarian, colorectal, lung, bladder or prostate cancer. The network will also be randomly recruiting healthy people from the general population those without a personal or family history of cancer to serve as a comparison population.
     Potential study participants will be identified through a variety of methods, including self-referral and referrals from area genetics clinics and doctors' offices. Major referral sources will include the PacNoRGG genetics counseling network, the Puget Sound Oncology Consortium, the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research and Medalia Healthcare, the state's largest primary care network.
     Those placed on the roster of potential study participants periodically will receive practical information on cancer genetics and new developments in the field. Genetic testing and biospecimen collection will not be required for enrollment in the network but will likely to be part of participation in individual studies.
     In addition to the Hutchinson Center, other regional CGN sites include Duke University (Chapel Hill, N.C.), Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.), Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (Baltimore, Md.), M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, Texas), the University of California (Irvine), the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) and the University of Utah (Salt Lake City). Data-management needs of the CGN will be provided by Yale University (New Haven, Conn.), Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, Mass.) and UC Irvine.
     The Hutchinson Center, one of 35 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers, ranks first in the nation in total federal funding for cancer research. In fiscal year 1997, The Hutch received more than $54 million in research grants from the NCI.
     Interested individuals can contact the NCI's Cancer Information Service, 1-800-4-CANCER (TTY equipment: 1-800-332-8615) to learn about opportunities to participate in the Cancer Genetics Network.

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     MEDIA PLEASE NOTE: To schedule an interview with Dr. Potter, please contact Kristen Woodward, media relations manager at the Hutchinson Center, at (206) 667-5095. For more information about the Cancer Genetics Network, please call the NCI Press Office at (301) 496-6641.

CONTACT: Kristen Lidke Woodward (206) 667-5095

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