Geisinger Awarded $3.6 Mmillion to Study Genetics of Cancer Members News May 12, 2021 The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a 5-year, $3.6 million contract to Geisinger to study the role of genetic variation in cancer. Researchers from Geisinger and the NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) will analyze genetic data from Geisinger’s MyCode Community Health Initiative, a precision medicine project with more than 276,000 consented participants. The work will be led by David J. Carey, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Molecular and Functional Genomics at Geisinger and a MyCode principal investigator, and Douglas Stewart, M.D., a senior investigator at DCEG. The investigative team will use a “genome-first” approach, analyzing data from MyCode participants to identify specific gene variants and then linking that information to the participants’ electronic health records. This approach will allow investigators to determine the effect of these gene variants on cancer risk. The size and scope of the MyCode project provides an opportunity to investigate the relationship between multiple genes and cancers to develop a better understanding of genetic cancer risk in a large clinical population. This will expand the list of genes that can be used to guide genetic cancer screening, improving care for patients and families. This project builds on a history of successful collaboration between Drs. Carey and Stewart to investigate the role of gene variants in specific cancers, including a recent study of DICER1 syndrome, which is linked to lung, thyroid, and other kinds of tumors, published in JAMA Network Open. “This partnership allows Geisinger and NCI investigators to combine our expertise in cancer diagnosis, epidemiology, cancer biology, and genetics,” Dr. Carey said. “The data available through MyCode provides us with a unique opportunity to investigate the genetic risk of cancer in a large regional population.” Since 2007, MyCode has enrolled more than 276,000 participants in Pennsylvania. With DNA sequence and health data currently available on nearly 175,000 of these participants, MyCode is one of the largest studies of its kind in the world. This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. 75N91021C00006. Geisinger has an exciting research environment with more than 50 full-time research faculty and more than 30 clinician scientists. Areas of expertise include precision health, genomics, informatics, data science, implementation science, outcomes research, health services research, bioethics and clinical trials.