National Cancer Institute
dccps logo
Risk Factor Monitoring & Methods
Cancer Control and Population Sciences


Pharmacogenomics & Pharmacoepidemiology Cancer Research

The rapidly advancing field of pharmacogenomics, along with new tools and infrastructures now available in the field of pharmacoepidemiology, have created important new opportunities in cancer research and control. Pharmacogenomics involves identifying an individual's response to a drug based on his or her genetic, genomic, and/or proteomic profile. Growing scientific evidence supports the concept that each patient's cancer or risk of cancer has a unique genetic and/or molecular profile, and advances in pharmacogenomics may provide new ways to personalize an individual's therapy for increased clinical benefit. Pharmacoepidemiology focuses on why groups of individuals respond differently to drug therapy based on clinical and epidemiologic factors.

The Trans-NCI Pharmacogenomics and Pharmacoepidemiology Working Group (PPWG) is actively advancing a pharmacogenomics and pharmacoepidemiology research agenda at NCI by developing initiatives and studies aimed at discovering epidemiologic, clinical, and genomic factors related to cancer therapy response. Through discovering ways to maximize response to cancer treatment while minimizing serious toxicity, these initiatives will help improve the benefit-to-risk ratio of cancer treatment and prevention in clinical practice. These studies will potentially enhance our ability to practice personalized cancer medicine, and ultimately to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality.

The PPWG, chaired by Dr. Andrew Freedman of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at NCI, is charged with developing a targeted research agenda in pharmacogenomics and pharmacoepidemiology that will connect discoveries in basic and molecular sciences, clinical trials, and population research, so as to enhance personalized cancer therapy. Specifically, the PPWG seeks to advance research to:

  • evaluate the risk of serious adverse acute and long-term events associated with cancer drug therapies and drugs used to treat side effects;
  • identify specific clinical, lifestyle, and genomic factors that are associated with enhanced response to cancer therapy and reduced adverse events; and
  • assess the association of common prescription pharmaceuticals with increased or decreased risk of cancer development.

In addition, the PPWG will work to enhance communication, coordination, and collaboration across NCI Divisions, other parts of NIH, and other Federal agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). It also will identify opportunities and priorities for proof of principle studies, pilot studies, and future large initiatives to advance research in cancer pharmacogenomics and pharmacoepidemiology.

The PPWG functions through its three subgroups, which have the following broad responsibilities:

  • Basic Science (chaired by Dr. William Douglas Figg of the Center for Cancer Research): Will identify and prioritize the most promising inter-individual pharmacogenomic variations that could be incorporated into drug discovery and clinical trials.
  • Clinical Trials (chaired by Dr. Lori Minasian of the Division of Cancer Prevention): Will identify and prioritize opportunities for pharmacogenomic study designs, analyses, and specimen collection within NCI-sponsored clinical trials.
  • Population Science (co-chaired by Dr. Nathaniel Rothman of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics and Dr. Arnold Potosky of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences): Will identify large populations that could potentially participate in pharmacogenomics and pharmacoepidemiology studies and develop the data infrastructures that will be essential to carrying out this program of research.

Last modified:
13 May 2008
Search | Contact Us | Accessibility | Privacy Policy  
DCCPS National Cancer Institute Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health The US government's official web portal