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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, Nov. 1994; 6(4):15

NIH Grants Explore Issues Related to Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk

The recent isolation of genes that increase a person's likelihood of developing breast, ovarian, or colon cancers brings with it the technological potential for testing large numbers of people to see if they carry the predisposing genes. DNA testing for susceptibility to some cancers may offer the opportunity for early preventive interventions before invasive cancer develops.

At the moment, little is known about the prevalence of predisposing mutations in large populations; correlation between mutations and the development of cancer; ability of tests to predict risk accurately; and social, psychological, and economic costs of being tested. Similarly, investigators do not know how the general population views the use of genetics in health care or whether the medical profession could provide adequate counseling before and after testing.

To help answer these questions, the NIH National Center for Human Genome Research (NCHGR), National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Nursing Research, and National Institute of Mental Health have jointly awarded more than $2.5 million in research grants (see Consortium Principal Investigators and Research Plans).

The 3-year grants will support 11 research projects in a consortium coordinated by the NCHGR Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications Branch. The consortium format will allow researchers to compare findings on common issues, reduce duplicated research efforts, and promote information sharing on informed consent issues and DNA test quality assurance.

NCHGR Director Francis Collins noted that recent cloning of the BRCA1 gene brings a particular urgency to address questions that surround DNA testing for cancer susceptibility. With these awards, he continued, "A highly qualified group of investigators will be funded to tackle these questions. We're glad to be able to do it in such a timely way."


HGMIS staff

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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v6n4).

Human Genome Project 1990–2003

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.