Genetics/Genomics

HHS Workshop: Converging on Cancer

The National Toxicology Program within the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will hold a workshop on evaluating the interactions between environmental exposures and cancer biology.

Cancer is a leading cause of mortality worldwide. While the defining feature of cancer is uncontrolled division of abnormal cells, it is a complex disease with varied presentations (i.e., different etiologies and target tissues) that involves dysregulation of multiple interconnected signaling pathways. Diverse environmental factors have been associated with the development and progression of various cancer types. A critical question in the field of environmental health is how to harness what is known about cancer biology and associated environmental exposures to improve public health outcomes. The Converging on Cancer Workshop is aimed at providing a clear path forward for evaluating the interactions between environmental exposures and cancer biology using the latest tools in toxicology and identifying knowledge gaps that require research attention. Potential applications of this understanding include building a framework for incorporating mechanistic data into cancer risk assessment, developing effective screening tools to detect the carcinogenic potential of environmental chemicals (including mixtures), engineering safer products, and designing more effective multi-target therapeutics. 

This meeting is free for members of the public to attend. Attendance will be limited by space available. This workshop will also be webcast. Both in person and online attendance require a registration. The registration links, along with more information regarding the event and a forthcoming agenda, are available at the NTP's website.

HHS Comment Deadline: Assays and Approaches for Evaluating Chemical Effects on Cancer Pathways

The National Toxicology Program (NTP) at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking input on assays and approaches for evaluating chemical effects on cancer pathways, specifically pathways that map to the hallmarks of cancer and key characteristics of carcinogens.

Cancer is a leading cause of mortality worldwide. While the defining feature of cancer is uncontrolled division of abnormal cells, it is a complex disease with varied presentations (i.e., different etiologies and target tissues) that involves dysregulation of multiple interconnected signaling pathways. Diverse environmental factors have been associated with the development and progression of various cancer types. A critical question in the field of environmental health is how to harness what is known about cancer biology and associated environmental exposures to improve public health outcomes. This Request for Information is in support of the Converging on Cancer Workshop, which is aimed at providing a clear path forward for evaluating the interactions between environmental exposures and cancer biology using the latest tools in toxicology and identifying knowledge gaps that require research attention. Potential applications of this understanding include building a framework for incorporating mechanistic data into cancer risk assessment, developing efficient and reliable screening tools to detect the carcinogenic potential of environmental chemicals (including mixtures), engineering safer products, and designing more effective multi-target therapeutics.  

The hallmarks of cancer (1) and key characteristics of carcinogens (2) offer two paradigms for organizing information to better understand the interactions between environmental exposures and biological systems that lead to cancer. The hallmarks of cancer represent the biological traits of tumors that allow for the unchecked growth of cancer, while the key characteristics framework begins with known human carcinogens and identifies their defining properties. It is clear from biomonitoring studies that we are constantly exposed to numerous structurally-diverse chemicals. A recent nomination to NTP was for development of a testing strategy to better understand how environmental chemicals might interact with multiple cancer-relevant biological pathways to elicit mixture effects that would not be expected based on single chemical considerations. This request for information (RFI) is intended to generate input that will facilitate new testing approaches designed to evaluate these hypotheses in a cancer context. Responses to the RFI should provide information on technologies targeting cancer-specific pathways and mechanisms, including organotypic and/or mechanistically insightful tools, preferred animal models, and in silico/computational approaches to link relevant pathways, as well as cancer types for use in evaluating hypotheses regarding the joint action of chemicals that target cancer pathways.

The NTP requests information regarding assays and approaches to measure the key biological mechanisms/pathways associated with chemical carcinogenesis. Responses to any or all of the questions below are invited from interested individuals/groups, including, but not limited to, the environmental health research community, health professionals, educators, policy makers, industry, and the public.

  • Systematic review approaches to transparently identify and evaluate mechanistic information on the carcinogenic properties of chemicals and chemical mixtures.
  • Assays associated with the biological mechanisms/pathways described by the hallmarks of cancer and the key characteristics of carcinogens.
  • Assays that integrate across multiple cancer-related pathways (e.g., organotypic microphysiological systems, mechanistic animal models).
  • Modeling approaches to assess the joint effects of multiple chemicals on carcinogenic potential.
  • Feedback on critical pathways and mechanisms to target when developing novel carcinogenicity testing strategies.
  • Feedback on cancer types conducive to exploring chemical interaction hypotheses.
  • Environmental chemicals known to affect key biological mechanisms/pathways leading to cancer and which key biological mechanisms/pathways are affected by these chemicals.
  • Types of scientific data (e.g., mechanistic, epidemiological) needed to address underlying knowledge gaps of chemical exposures leading to carcinogenesis.
  • New technologies and innovative research approaches that could be leveraged to address these underlying knowledge gaps.

Responses to this request are open to members of the public. Responses should be submitted via email to Cynthia V. Rider Ph.D. More information regarding the submission process and other additional information can be found at this notice.

HHS Meeting: Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS

As stipulated by the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the US Department of Health and Human Services is hereby giving notice that the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS will be holding a meeting to discuss recommendations regarding programs, policies, and research to promote effective, prevention, treatment and cure of HIV disease and AIDS.

The meeting will be open to the public. Public attendance will be limited by space available, and therefore registration is required for attendance. For more information regarding the meeting, attendance, and a forthcoming agenda, please see this Federal Register notice.

NASEM Symposium: Evidence-Based Interventions to Address the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Committee On Women In Science, Engineering, and Medicine (CWSEM) is organizing a symposium to be centered around evidence-based interventions to address the underrepresentation of women in science, engineering, and medicine.

The scientific, engineering, and medical communities have been working towards improved representation of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) for decades. While progress has been made, women (particularly women of color) remain underrepresented in many scientific, engineering, and medical fields, and at many levels in education and career stages. This symposium will seek to understand institutional barriers to implementing practices for improving the representation of women in STEMM, so that those barriers can be removed or overcome. This event will re-visit the major themes of the 2007 National Academies report, Beyond Bias and Barriers, and will examine policies, practices, and strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness in opening doors to women’s participation and success in STEMM fields. 

This event is free to attend, and requires registration prior to attendance. 

FDA Meeting: Microbiology Devices Panel Advisory Committee

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing a forthcoming meeting of the Microbiology Devices Panel Advisory Committee. The committee will discuss and make recommendations regarding new or alternative approaches to the clinical study design and evaluation of devices detecting Human Papillomavirus (HPV) nucleic acid.

These approaches will take into consideration scientific data generated since the approval of the first High Risk (HR) HPV screening device in 2003 as well as the effects of HPV vaccination on clinical studies of devices for HPV detection. Topics to be addressed at the meeting include clinical study design and comparator methods. Additionally, the committee will discuss potential changes to the HR HPV device indications for use considering continually evolving cervical cancer screening guidelines. The committee will provide expert feedback regarding the benefits and risks from the adoption of changes in each of the above topics and make recommendations for future HR HPV device evaluation strategies that are both scientifically rigorous and least burdensome.

Interested persons may present data or information either in written form or orally. Written submissions must be sent by March 1, 2019, while oral presentations will take place during the meeting. For more information regarding the meeting, attendance and public involvement, please see this Federal Register notice

NIH Workshop: Rare Disease Day

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), announces the 2019 Rare Disease Day at NIH. The event will feature interactive panel discussions on collective research models for rare diseases, patient registries, rare cancer research initiatives, and "no disease left behind, no patient left behind." New this year will be a presentation of the first ever Zebbie award for the NCATS Rare Diseases are Not Rare! Challenge. Other highlights include posters and exhibits by rare disease groups and researchers as well as artwork, videos and NIH Clinical Center tours.

Guest speakers include NCATS Director Christopher P. Austin, M.D.; NIH Clinical Center CEO James K. Gilman, M.D.; and NCATS Office of Rare Diseases Research Director Anne R. Pariser, M.D.

Admission is free and open to the public. In association with Global Genes®, participants are encouraged to wear their favorite pair of jeans.

The day will start with a welcome session, and then move into 4 different panel sessions, each targeted at addressing a sector of rare disease treatment and research. Interested persons should register online. More information regarding the event, including a tentative agenda, can be found at this NIH page

CDC Meeting: Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announces the following meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The agenda will include discussions on human papillomavirus vaccines, pneumococcal vaccines, Japanese encephalitis vaccines, influenza vaccines, anthrax vaccine, hepatitis vaccines, Pertussis vaccine, herpes zoster vaccine, and meningococcal vaccines. A recommendation vote is scheduled for anthrax vaccine, Japanese encephalitis vaccines, and human papillomavirus vaccines. 

The committee is charged with advising the CDC and Health and Human Services Directors on the use of immunizing agents. In addition, the committee is mandated to establish and periodically review and, as appropriate, revise the list of vaccines for administration to vaccine-eligible children through the Vaccines for Children program, along with schedules regarding dosing interval, dosage, and contraindications to administration of vaccines. 

Members of the public may attend the meeting in person or via webcast. More information is available at the committee's website and at this Federal Register notice.

FDA Comment Deadline: Definition of the Term “Biological Product”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency) is seeking comments on a proposed rule to amend its regulation that defines “biological product” to incorporate changes made by the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, and to provide its interpretation of the statutory terms “protein” and “chemically synthesized polypeptide.” Under that interpretation, the term protein would mean any alpha amino acid polymer with a specific, defined sequence that is greater than 40 amino acids in size. A chemically synthesized polypeptide would mean any alpha amino acid polymer that is made entirely by chemical synthesis and is greater than 40 amino acids but less than 100 amino acids in size. This proposed rule is intended to clarify the statutory framework under which such products are regulated.

Comments on this proposal may be submitted electronically at Regulations.gov or by mail. More information on the proposal and the comment submission process can be found at this Federal Register notice

NCI Webinar: Frederick National Laboratory Advisory Committee

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) within the National Institutes of Health will hold the 3rd Virtual Meeting of the Frederick National Laboratory Advisory Committee

The Committee will review the state of research (extramural and intramural) at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) and make recommendations for the best use of its capabilities and infrastructure. Specifically, the committee will review major new projects proposed to be performed at FNLCR and advise the Director, NCI and Associate Director, FNLCR about the intrinsic merit of the projects and about whether they should be done at the FNLCR. In addition, the Committee will periodically review the existing portfolio of projects at FNLCR, evaluate their productivity, help determine which of these projects should be transitioned to more conventional mechanisms of support, i.e., (grants, contracts, cooperative agreements) and which should be considered for termination. The Committee will help to assure that the operations at FNLCR are open, transparent, and in the best interests of the entire cancer research community.

Members of the public may attend via webinar. More information is available at NCI's website.

The DIY designer baby project funded with Bitcoin

MIT Technology Review – For a few years now, Bishop, a 29-year-old programmer and Bitcoin investor, has been leaving a trail of comments about human “enhancement” on the web. He’s a transhumanist, which means he thinks humans can be improved in profound ways by technology. He’d long exhorted others to do something about the human condition. Now, he had decided to do it himself.