Nationwide Children’s Hospital recently was awarded an initial $5.5 million contract from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to serve as a Biospecimen Core Resource (BCR) for The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a program co-managed by the NCI and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), both part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Following a three-year pilot phase, TCGA is moving forward to create a comprehensive catalog of the genomic changes involved in more than 20 common types of cancer. This large-scale effort is being carried out by a network of more than 100 researchers at organizations across the nation. The goal of TCGA is to further scientific understanding of the genomic changes in cancer, thereby improving the ability to diagnose, treat and prevent this disease. More information is available at http://cancergenome.nih.gov.
As a BCR for TCGA, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital will be central to the process of acquiring both tumor and normal tissue samples and their accompanying clinical information from contributing medical and research centers. BCR functions include analyzing all specimens to ensure they meet rigorous quality standards for each tumor type and ensuring that the clinical information for each sample is available. Once the optimal specimens are examined and processed, the BCR distributes the DNA and RNA extracted from the specimens to researchers in the TCGA research network.
“Our selection as a key resource for The Cancer Genome Atlas is an honor and a significant validation of our existing expertise and national reputation for biospecimen banking and tissue processing,” said John Barnard, MD, president of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s.
“With our history as a highly respected biospecimen bank, we’re proud to expand our reach into additional arenas of cancer research,” explained Julie Gastier-Foster, PhD, a principal investigator in the Biopathology Center at Nationwide Children’s and the lead scientist for the award. “Expanding our impact in the field of cancer research and treatment is a tremendous opportunity for Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the entire cancer research and treatment community in Columbus.”
Since 1989 pediatric tumor specimens from all pediatric institutions in the Children’s Cancer Study Group (now part of the Children’s Oncology Group, or COG) have been banked at Nationwide Children’s Biopathology Center. Because of this experience dealing with multiple institutions as sources of tissue, in 1993 the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) worked with the late Stephen Qualman, MD, to develop a biorepository for gynecologic cancer specimens at the Biopathology Center.
Nationwide Children’s Biopathology Center, led by Pathologist Nilsa Ramirez, MD, is the legacy of Dr. Qualman, former director of Pediatric Pathology and director of the Center for Childhood Cancer at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Dr. Qualman pioneered tissue banking at Nationwide Children’s with the foresight to know that linking clinical information to pathologic specimens would yield greater potential for unraveling the pathogenesis of cancer and enhancing the discovery of new therapies.
Today, the Biopathology Center stores more than one million specimens for use in cancer research, making the hospital one of the largest biorepositories in North America. It is supported by more than $6 million in active grants and contracts.
“Nationwide Children’s continues to establish itself as an institution of innovation and expertise. This contract with the National Cancer Institute enhances our capacity to have a meaningful impact on cancer research and treatment on a local, national and international level,” said Steve Allen, MD, CEO of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
“Nationwide Children’s is an integral collaborating institution with The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. Becoming a central component of TCGA further serves our combined mission of saving lives through innovative research designed to improve detection, treatment and prevention of cancer in its many forms. This award is a significant honor for our community,” stated Michael Caligiuri, MD, director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“With the outstanding research and care taking place at Nationwide Children’s, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and The James Cancer Hospital, Columbus is clearly a world-class leader in the field of pediatric and adult cancers,” said Abigail Wexner, chair of the Board of Directors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “In addition to innovative cancer research and excellent care, this award benefits the Columbus economy with approximately 50 to 60 new science and technology jobs.”