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Cancer Genome Atlas Founding Members and Current Project Team Awarded 2020 AACR Team Science Awards


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During its recent Virtual Annual Meeting II, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) presented its 2020 Team Science Awards to the founding members and the current project team associated with The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA).

Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc)

Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc)

TCGA began in 2006 as a joint effort between the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute. “This remarkable project has uniquely convened researchers from various scientific areas working in a number of institutions across the United States and Canada, and it continues to effectively serve as the premier model for team science initiatives,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), Chief Executive Officer of the AACR. “Importantly, the collective and publicly available genomic, proteomic, transcriptomic, and epigenomic data generated by the TCGA network have resulted in innumerable scientific publications and cancer research breakthroughs, which cumulatively have significantly increased our understanding of cancer. These new insights have impacted every area of cancer research cancer.”

Groundbreaking Discoveries

Since its inception, TCGA has resulted in the molecular characterization of more than 20,000 primary cancer and matched normal samples spanning 33 cancer types. The data generated by TCGA have highlighted chromosomal rearrangements, copy number alterations, DNA methylation events, and RNA expression changes that possess the ability to drive cancer initiation and progression. This comprehensive genetic knowledge has transformed the understanding of cancer. TCGA has enabled and driven the development of new technologies that have exponentially improved genetic sequencing capabilities and is the foremost initiative responsible for supporting the emergence and implementation of precision cancer medicine.

In addition, TCGA has revolutionized cancer genomics research by establishing new standards and procedures for managing interdisciplinary teams of biologic scientists, clinicians, computational scientists, and pathologists.

Past and Present Participants

The AACR honored the seminal contributions to TCGA of Anna D. Barker, PhD, and Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, who were directly responsible for the project’s inception and establishment. Also recognized were past NCI Directors Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD, and John E. Niederhuber, MD. Eric S. Lander, PhD, and Leland H. Hartwell, PhD, were recognized for their efforts associated with the establishment of the pilot project.

The second 2020 AACR Team Science Award was presented to Jean Claude Zenklusen, PhD, and the 129 members of the current TCGA project team. Dr. Zenklusen, continues to lead the evolution of the program and all team members to further build upon the initial success of the pilot project. 


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