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U.S. National Institutes of Health
Last Updated: 03/05/10


The “Director’s Challenge: Toward a Molecular Classification of Cancer” challenges the cancer research community to demonstrate the power of comprehensive molecular technologies by developing profiles of molecular alterations in human tumors. These “molecular signatures” are intended to redefine tumor classification, moving from morphology-based to molecular-based classification schemes.

The Director’s Challenge investigators are developing strategies for analyzing tumor specimens using technologies including:

  • cDNA and oligo microarray analysis of gene expression
  • Comparative genomic hybridization (CGH)
  • Serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE)
  • Spectral karyotyping (SKY)
  • Arbitrarily primed and quantitative–PCR
  • 2D Gel/MS analysis of protein expression
  • Analysis of patterns of DNA methylation.

Grantees are seeking “molecular signatures” associated with:

  • Responsiveness to therapy
  • Prognosis after curative surgery
  • Disease progression
  • Risk of metastasis
  • Inter and intra-tumor heterogeneity

The Director’s Challenge investigators in collaboration with the NCI are addressing issues of the management, analysis and public release of the large, complex data sets developed on these projects.

NCI is dedicated to making the information, analytical tools, reagents and protocols developed by the Director’s Challenge Initiative and other NCI activities available to the cancer research community. NCI continues to support the development and applications of new technologies.

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