Core Infrastructure Support for Cancer Epidemiology Cohorts


Cancer Epidemiology Cohorts (CECs) are observational studies in which groups of people with a set of characteristics or exposures are prospectively followed for the incidence of new cancers, cancer mortality, and/or cancer-related outcomes. CEC studies have helped advance our understanding of cancer etiology and outcomes, and provided fundamental insights into key environmental, lifestyle, and genomic determinants of a broad array of cancer types. Data from CECs help to identify contributing factors to disparities in cancer risk. Findings from CECs and their associated biorepositories inform prevention strategies, risk prediction models, and cancer control trials. Well-designed, population-based cohort studies can provide a foundational framework for cancer prevention and control. NCI recognizes that CECs are valuable resources that benefit the cancer research community. Combining data across CECs allows for the study of rarer cancers and exposures, as well as understanding risks for molecular subtypes of cancer.

Scope of the funding opportunity

Support available for:

1) Existing CECs prospectively following at least 10,000 study participants to support continued follow-up and maintenance of the cohort resources used to examine the associations between multiple exposures and the risk of multiple types of cancers; or

2) Existing CECs prospectively following at least 2,000 cancer patients/survivors per cancer site to support continued follow-up and maintenance of the cohort resources used to examine determinants of cancer progression, recurrence, mortality, incidence, and other cancer/health-related outcomes.

Cohorts established to assess the role of exposures in the workplace on risk of cancer (i.e., “occupational cohorts”) may be appropriate for this funding opportunity, but only if they were established to examine a broad range of exposures potentially experienced by the general public, multiple cancer sites, and/or genomic factors affecting cancer risk or outcomes after cancer diagnosis. Applications designed solely to support biorepositories are not appropriate for this funding opportunity. Development, and maintenance of registries of persons with characteristics that do not address the identification of factors affecting cancer risk or cancer outcomes are not appropriate for this funding opportunity. This mechanism is to support basic cohort infrastructure maintenance. Research studies using the resources of the cohort should seek support through appropriate research project mechanisms, such as investigator-initiated R01 and P01 grants.

Specific core functions that can be supported for the existing cohorts may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Follow-up (active and passive) of enrolled participants;
  • Efforts to maintain high retention and encourage study participant engagement;
  • Biospecimen collection and management;
  • Support for staff related to cohort maintenance and operation;
  • Additional queries to participants to supplement existing information;
  • Preparation and distribution of data and specimens for broad sharing with other investigators;
  • Preparation and submission of data to an NIH-approved database;
  • Data management, and administrative and communication tasks; and
  • Methodologic research to validate or evaluate approaches to core infrastructure functions (e.g., validation of novel approaches to exposures assessment, quality control, or calibration of data across cohorts).

Generating large amounts of genomic data (e.g., genotyping, proteomics) from existing biospecimens is not appropriate under this funding opportunity. Limited pilot data may be generated to address specific methodologic questions.

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