RTI International’s Partnerships for Genomics and Molecular Epidemiology group has been awarded two bioinformatics contracts worth $5.6 million from the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute.

One project will provide bioinformatics support for the Breast and Colon Cancer Family Registries, led by the NCI Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, and the other will provide project management support for various bioinformatics projects led by the NCI Center for Bioinformatics.

Support for Breast and Colon Cancer Family Registries

Under this four-year, $4.3 million including all options contract, RTI will provide bioinformatics support for NCI’s Breast and Colon Cancer Family Registries, which connect researchers in more than a dozen sites who collect and study information concerning the interplay between genetics and the environment in the development of breast and colon cancer.

RTI will assume management of the Informatics Support Center, which facilitates collection and integration of demographic and clinical data as well as blood and tissue samples from more than 20,000 enrolled cancer patients and family members. RTI will serve as a repository for all data and will develop software and database resources that enable researchers to accurately track, manage, mine, analyze and disseminate that data. Development of the database has been ongoing for a decade.

RTI’s research partners in this project include Alpha Gamma Technologies and Duke University, which provide expertise in cancer genetics, statistical genetics, cancer epidemiology, pathology and related fields.

NCI Bioinformatics Project Management Support

Under this three-year, $1.3 million contract, RTI will provide project management support for several bioinformatics projects performed under the NCI Center for Bioinformatics informatics support for various NCI funded initiatives.

This program was created by NCI to identify potential applications for biomarkers in cancer research, including early diagnostic testing, monitoring response to treatment, detecting metastatic disease and building “designer” therapies.

When sufficiently validated, biomarkers will enable scientists to more rationally discover and develop drugs and quickly identify patients who will respond to specific therapeutic interventions. The projects within the program that RTI will help manage and coordinate are the following:

Proteomics Biomarker Discovery. Teams from ten different cancer research institutes are developing standard tools and resources needed to accelerate protein biomarker discovery. It is anticipated that this will result in a reliable and broad-based platform for the discovery and validation of markers in cancer research.

I-SPY. The focus of this multi-center trial is to look for correlations in functional genomic and proteomic data to clinical outcomes, as well as correlations in magnetic resonance imagery (MRI) to outcomes. These correlations will also examine breast cancer biology and response to therapy. The centers involved include the Specialized Program of Research Excellence, the American College of Investigators Network, the Cancer and Leukemia Group B and eight NCI-designated cancer centers across the country.

“We are very proud to support the National Cancer Institute research efforts,” said A. Jamie Cuticchia, Ph.D., who directs RTI International’s Bioinformatics group. “We have a very talented and dedicated team who are uniquely qualified to provide the level of bioinformatics support required by these significant projects.”

Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG). Nearly 500 researchers from approximately 50 NCI-designated cancer centers and other organizations are collaboratively working on more than 70 bioinformatics projects in a three-year pilot study. The ultimate goal of caBIG is to create interoperable bioinformatics databases and tools that will speed the development and delivery of novel cancer therapeutics.

The collection and integration of genomic, proteomic and clinical data will be a significant component of the work undertaken in these projects. RTI project staff members will use their management skills, domain knowledge and expertise to ensure successful implementation of these projects.

RTI’s Partnerships for Genomics and Molecular Epidemiology has experience on a number of significant bioinformatics projects. They include a five-year project working with SAS, IBM, Duke and Emory University to develop a web-based portal and a set of computational and analytical tools to model emerging infectious diseases for the National Institutes of Health and a separate five-year project for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study the extent to which genetics affect a person’s immune response to such vaccines.

For more information, please visit us at: www.rti.org.