The summary for the Integrative Cancer Biology Programs Federal Grant is detailed below.
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The goal of this initiative is to promote the analysis of cancer as a complex biological system, by supporting the development of reliably predictive in silico or computational models of cancer initiation and progression that can ultimately lead to the development of improved cancer interventions. The overall thrust of this program will be the integration of experimental and computational approaches towards the understanding of cancer biology. This initiative will encourage the emergence of integrative cancer biology as a distinct field. NCI recognizes that biomedical research is entering an era in which computational approaches will be increasingly used to deepen our understanding of biological behavior. Building upon mechanistic descriptions of individual biological constituents, there will be an increasing emphasis on concepts and methods that target systems and their integrated behavior and increasing dependence of cancer biologists on expertise from computational sciences as well as other fields of science that consider complex systems. This initiative is intended to facilitate the establishment of research programs in integrative cancer biology, which bring together cancer biologists and scientists from fields such as mathematics, physics, information technology, imaging sciences, and computer science to work on a common cancer biology problem. An ideal program in integrative cancer biology will be organized around an important problem in cancer that balances and seamlessly integrates experimental biology with computation and modeling. Standard and high-throughput experimental methods will generate large volumes of data, which will be used, in part, as input for computational/modeling approaches to the biological problem. These Integrative Cancer Biology Programs (ICBPs) will fund teams capable of addressing questions of cancer complexity with a wide scope of research activities. In order to further develop the field, the Programs will participate in active knowledge dissemination and have a role in educating future investigators in necessary approaches and skills. To accomplish this the individual Programs will also be responsible for establishing training and outreach programs. The Programs will operate independently but will be linked through a central focus on cancer, a common bioinformatics infrastructure, and a planned NCI-sponsored coordination committee consisting of the principal investigators (PIs) of the Programs, key program personnel and NCI staff. NCI interests related to this initiative include analysis of genome- scale data sets, understanding signal-transduction networks that maintain and promote the malignant process, and the performance of computationally-based modeling of critical cancer-related cell processes such as proliferation, migration, apoptosis, transcription and differentiation. The NCI is also interested in understanding the cellular and molecular interactions within the cancer microenvironment that facilitate tumor development and progression. Applications responsive to this initiative must concentrate on human cancer or on well-credentialed vertebrate models of human cancer. Since it is well recognized that cancer involves fundamental cellular processes that are often effectively studied in such model systems as yeast, worms, and flies, programs may incorporate these systems in comparative studies centered on human or higher-order vertebrate systems. While under appropriate circumstances NCI supports studies exclusively on lower model systems, such studies are generally referred to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) for consideration. Groups interested in exploring complexity in such model organisms should refer to a series of NIGMS initiatives, including NIGMS Programs of Excellence in Complex Biomedical Systems Research (RFA GM-03-009). The NCI, through the NIH Biomedical Information Science and Technology Initiative or BISTI, also supports smaller specific applications primarily focused on bio-computing and bioinformatics. If the potential applicant has questions regarding the appropriateness of his/her proposed research project, he/she should contact program staff or address the issue in the letter of intent. Individual investigators will find an up-to-date list of relevant program announcements at http://www.bisti.nih.gov.