Moffitt Cancer Center receives DoD funds to establish National Functional Genomics Project

The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute has been awarded $3.2 million by the United States Department of Defense to establish the National Functional Genomics Project (NFGP), an innovative partnership between academia, government, and industry. The goal of the NFGP is to develop new technologies in molecular medicine to advance the early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer and other chronic diseases.

"Functional genomics is the hottest topic in cancer research today," says William Dalton, PhD, MD, Moffitt's new CEO and Center Director. "It could completely change the practice of medicine within five years."

The resolution of the human genome into separate genes provided the blueprint for understanding disease processes. However, unraveling the functional significance of these genes is central to solving the problems posed by cancer and other diseases. "Each cancer is unique" explains Jack Pledger, PhD, Moffitt's Deputy Director and head of basic research, who will also serve as Scientific Director of the NFGP. "We need to pay attention to the molecular changes that give rise to cancer, rather than just looking at where the cancer started out. Molecular diagnosis may be better than a diagnosis based on just what the tumor looks like--or whether it started out in the lung, prostate, or breast."

The primary function of the NFGP will be to track the genetic changes involved in cancer, allowing the design of more effective therapeutic agents and a better understanding of the hereditary and environmental influences that contribute to cancer and other diseases. "We need a new way to classify tumors," says Pledger. "The current method of categorizing them based solely on the tissue they arise in is not adequate for relating how they respond to chemotherapy."

The NFGP will be an integrated research program focusing on gene expression analysis, genetics, proteomics, and translational research, with a bioinformat

Contact: Andrea Lazarus
Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute

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