December 8, 2011

VICC named to proteomic cancer research consortium

VICC named to proteomic cancer research consortium

A team of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center scientists, led by Daniel Liebler, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry, Biomedical Informatics and Pharmacology, has been selected to participate in the Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC), a multi-center cancer research program created by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Daniel Liebler, Ph.D.

Daniel Liebler, Ph.D.

Liebler will lead the Vanderbilt Proteome Characterization Center, one of five academic centers focused on characterizing the proteins and proteomes of human cancers in an effort to develop reliable blood tests that could lead to earlier detection and improved treatments for cancer.

Vanderbilt will receive about $7.8 million over three years to help support the research.

The NCI created the CPTAC research consortium to accelerate the understanding of cancer through the use of quantitative proteomic technologies. Liebler led the Vanderbilt program during a previous five-year program to evaluate and standardize proteomic technology platforms. The new CPTAC consortium will systematically characterize the proteomes linked to alterations in cancer genomes.

The CPTAC consortium will partner with the NCI Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) initiative, which is analyzing the genomes of human cancers.

The CPTAC network will analyze the same tumor specimens studied by the TCGA network and generate proteomic data to match the genomic information.

As with the TCGA data, all data created by the CPTAC network will be made available to the public.

“We are delighted to be part of this second phase of the CPTAC program, which builds on the work we did to improve and standardize proteomic technology platforms,” said Liebler, who is an Ingram Professor of Cancer Research.

“The most exciting opportunity here is to provide proteomic data to help us understand how cancer-related genomic characteristics translate to the behavior of the disease. This work will expand our understanding of how specific gene abnormalities affect individual tumors and will broaden the application of genomics to personalized medicine.”

Bing Zhang, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biomedical Informatics and Cancer Biology, and David Tabb, Ph.D., associate professor of Biomedical Informatics and Biochemistry, will play an integral role in developing the computational tools to integrate the genomic and proteomic data so that investigators can understand cancers at a systems level.

Liebler said the research infrastructure developed by the Jim Ayers Institute for Precancer Detection and Diagnosis at Vanderbilt contributed to the VICC team’s success in the NCI consortium.

As director of the Ayers Institute, Liebler has been a leader in the effort to standardize proteomic research protocols.