Consortium focuses on new mouse models of human cancers

NASHVILLE, Tenn - Scientists from the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center have been selected to participate in the National Cancer Institute's new Mouse Models of Human Cancers Consortium.

The NCI announced formation of the Consortium, including 19 groups from more than 30 U.S. institutions, on Dec. 28. These groups will work separately to develop and evaluate mouse models to parallel the development and progression of human cancers of eight major organ systems - breast, prostate, lung, ovary, skin, blood and lymph system, colon and brain. They will share their findings and work together to set research priorities and overcome technological obstacles.

The selection brings $2.5 million in funding over the next five years for VICC scientists' work in mouse models for breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancer. More important than the money, however, is the participation that Vanderbilt will have in setting priorities for mouse model research in the coming years, said Bob Coffey, M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and principal investigator in the project.

"This is an important priority for NCI director Dr. Richard Klausner," Coffey said. "The initial plan called for six centers to be selected and funded. When the 32 proposals came in, they were reviewed by a group of investigators, who awarded Vanderbilt's application the second-highest score. So we were assured a place at the table. However, Dr. Klausner was so excited about the quality of the applications and the possibilities that could emerge from this Consortium, he identified additional funds to expand the group from six to 19."

The development of mouse models of human cancer, through various sophisticated genetic engineering techniques, is critical to unlocking more of the mysteries of how cancer develops. As scientists learn more about the many genetic steps involved in the process, the goal is to use that knowledge to develop methods to cure cancer and ultimately to prevent it.

Contact: Cynthia Manley
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

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