News Releases

Hutchinson Center receives $4.6 million to study biomarkers of common diseases among postmenopausal women

Phase two of Women's Health Initiative supports three new Center research projects

SEATTLE — January 29, 2007 — Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has received more than $4.6 million for three new Women's Health Initiative research contracts funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The contracts are part of a second phase of WHI research to study genetic and biological markers of common diseases in postmenopausal women.

The new two-year projects will apply innovative technologies to study factors that affect the major diseases in postmenopausal women. Researchers will conduct their research using blood, DNA and other biological samples and clinical data from the 161,808 postmenopausal women who participated in one or more of the three WHI clinical trials or in the observational study.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center serves as the Clinical Coordinating Center of the WHI, which was a major 15-year research program designed to address the most frequent causes of death, disability and poor quality of life in postmenopausal women: cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis.

A total of 12 WHI research contracts were announced today by the National Institutes of heath. Below is information about the three contracts that were awarded to researchers at the Hutchinson Center, all based in the Center's Public Health Sciences Division.

Identification and Validation of Circulating Biomarkers for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer in Pre-clinical Specimens — Using three different proteomics techniques, principal investigator Christopher Li, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues aim to identify proteins associated with breast cancer as well as biomarkers that could potentially be used for early detection of breast cancer.

Proteomics and the Health Effects of Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy — Principal investigator Ross Prentice, Ph.D., and his research team will study more than 1,000 proteins to identify a small number of proteins potentially associated with heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer or hip fractures in participants in the WHI Observational Study. Together with other ongoing studies in the hormone trials, this work may lead to the identification of markers of future disease, and how these markers relate to the effects of hormone therapy. This study also will use protein biomarkers to assess the impact of various disease-prevention intervention strategies to better determine their benefits and risks.

High-dimensional Genotype in Relation to Breast Cancer and WHI Clinical Trial Interventions — This genome-wide association study, also led by Prentice, will examine genetic variations associated with breast-tumor characteristics. Since the studies are being done in women participating in the hormone therapy, calcium-vitamin D, and low-fat diet trials and the investigators will have access to blood hormone and vitamin D levels in many of these WHI participants, they hope to explore biologic pathways by relating treatments, blood levels and genes to breast cancer. This study will be conducted in collaboration with Perlegen Sciences Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., a subcontractor on the award.

Note for media only:
This news release is based on a media advisory issued today by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a branch of the National Institutes of Health. For the full media advisory, please visit


Media Contact
Kristen Woodward
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
(206) 667-5095

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