On November 18-19, 2013, the Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP) of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) and the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) hosted the annual meeting of the NCI Cohort Consortium. More than 140 investigators and researchers, representing over 30 domestic and international cohorts, gathered to discuss scientific progress during the previous year, identify gaps and new opportunities, and discuss priority setting for future collaborations.
The Cohort Consortium is an extramural-intramural partnership designed to address the need for large-scale collaborations to pool the large quantity of data and biospecimens necessary to conduct a wide range of cancer studies. The membership includes investigators responsible for more than 40 member cohorts who are studying large and diverse populations in more than 15 different countries. There are more than two dozen Consortium working groups that are actively collaborating on various pooled analyses. Several of these groups met over the course of the two-day meeting to discuss the status and progress of their studies.
The Cohort Consortium has matured over the past decade, as evidenced by the growing membership and unique scientific opportunities at the NIH that were highlighted by Dr. Stephen Chanock, the new director of DCEG, in his presentation at the Meeting. It was another productive year for the group, with more than a dozen publications resulting from consortium-related projects. Dr. Elio Riboli presented a new signature project exploring the potential link between diabetes and cancer development and survival, leveraging the power of the Cohort Consortium to tease apart the diabetes-cancer association as well as genetic and molecular factors that may mediate this association. The meeting also highlighted efforts to address four of the eight recommendations generated from the 2012 Trends in 21st Century Epidemiology Workshop. These areas included:
- open access for cohort epidemiologic data in the context of genomic and non-genomic data sharing
- knowledge integration using data sciences as shown in the NIH BD2K initiative
- incorporating new technologies in design of cohort studies and implementation, behavioral, and intervention research in epidemiology cohorts
- using epidemiology cohorts to accelerate discovery and validation of cancer biomarkers
Following formal presentations by the experts, smaller breakout groups organized around these areas engaged in lively and more in-depth discussions regarding types of opportunities, challenges, short-term and long-term efforts, and infrastructure to facilitate and accelerate implementation in the Cohort Consortium. Dr. Anne Zeleniuch-Jacquotte of the New York University School of Medicine was honored with an Outstanding Service Award for her leadership as Chair of the Cohort Consortium Secretariat during the past year. She will continue in this role during the transition in governance over the next few months. Finally, on behalf of the Secretariat, Dr. Debbie Winn discussed the evolving governance structure and welcomed input from the scientific community.
To engage the broader scientific community and share general meeting highlights, we tweeted updates from the main meeting on Tuesday, November 19; the full Twitter conversation is available here. A detailed meeting summary will be posted on http://epi.grants.cancer.gov/Consortia/meeting2013.html.
As the Cohort Consortium matures over the next few years, EGRP is committed to leveraging the amazing resources accumulated over multiple decades to accelerate the discovery of determinants of cancer occurrence and outcomes in populations, and translating this knowledge into new strategies to reduce the burden of cancer in the United States and globally. Visit the Cohort Consortium web page to learn more.
What Did You Think of the Annual Meeting?
If you attended the 2013 Annual Meeting, EGRP invites you to share your feedback about the presentations and topics discussed at the Meeting. We welcome your ideas and suggestions for future NCI Cohort Consortium events. Please leave your comments in the space below or send us an email.
Nonye Harvey, M.P.H. is a Public Health Advisor in the Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP) Office of the Associate Director and serves as the lead for Planning and Budget in EGRP. She has been the Coordinator of the NCI’s Cohort Consortium since 2006 and has been actively involved in various Cohort Consortium projects and working groups. She also served as the NCI extramural lead on two signature projects of the Cohort Consortium: the Vitamin D Pooling Project and the African American Body Mass Index (BMI) and Mortality Pooling Project.