June 24, 2015

New Prize Competition Hopes to Boost Discovery of Novel Breast Cancer Genetic Pathways

New Prize Competition Hopes to Boost Discovery of Novel Breast Cancer Genetic Pathways

BETHESDA, Md.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sage Bionetworks, in partnership with the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS), launched a new prize competition this week, “Up For A Challenge (U4C) – Stimulating Innovation in Breast Cancer Genetic Epidemiology.” U4C encourages innovative approaches to more fully decipher the genomic basis of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in women in the United States. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) helped to identify more than 90 common genetic variations that are associated with breast cancer risk. Although GWAS have greatly enhanced our understanding of the genetic component of breast cancer susceptibility, the results to date explain only a small portion of the estimated genetic contribution to breast cancer risk.

The goal of the Challenge is for participants to use innovative approaches to identify novel pathways—including new genes or combinations of genes, genetic variants, or sets of genomic features—involved in breast cancer susceptibility in order to generate new biological hypotheses. The Challenge also provides an opportunity to examine the genetic heritable contribution to health disparities, by facilitating greater access to GWAS data sets from African American, Asian, European, and Latino women.

Says Gustavo Stolovitzky, from IBM Research and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and founder of the crowdsourced DREAM Challenges that examine questions in biology and medicine: “Crowdsourcing the elucidation of the epidemiology of breast cancer susceptibility is a great way to maximize our chances of finding the genetic causes of one of the more serious health problems for women. We hope the DREAM community, and the computational biology community at large, will see NCI and Sage’s “Up For A Challenge” as a great new opportunity to make the wisdom of the crowds useful one more time in translational research.”

These data sets, some of which will be released for the first time via the National Institutes of Health (NIH) database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP), will be made available through controlled access to researchers. Scientists will also be able to use other publicly available data sets for the purposes of developing and applying methods for identification of the novel pathways.

NCI will award up to $50,000 in funds based on the identification of novel findings, replication of findings, innovation of approach, evidence of novel biological hypotheses, and collaboration. Selected winners will be invited to prepare a manuscript for publication describing their approach and results, with the goal of a special journal issue (PLoS Genetics) highlighting the Challenge. All Challenge participants will be acknowledged in this issue.

For more information about the Challenge application, due dates, rules, and other FAQs, visit the Challenge website athttps://www.synapse.org/upforachallenge. U4C submissions are due by 8 P.M. ET on January 15, 2016.

The Challenge is being launched under the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Reauthorization Act of 2010.

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