The Functional Genomics Initiative (FGI) was established to leverage the growing body of data related to the molecular changes that drive tumors. This research aims to help us better understand the basic biological mechanisms that underlie tumors’ growth and spread.
The governing principle of the FGI is that the natural history of every tumor comprises a series of genetic changes that subvert normal cellular processes. In essence, each tumor represents an experiment carried out by nature to reveal what must happen for a normal cell to acquire the traits of a cancer cell.
In 2014, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology (CMO) was created to transform cancer care through genomic analysis of patient-derived tumors. The CMO generates genetic information from 10,000 tumors each year. It correlates that information with clinical data regarding the nature of the tumors and their responsiveness to treatment. The CMO amasses a valuable resource of biological information on an annual basis, providing our researchers with unprecedented opportunities.
Much of this information is improving the development of new tumor biomarkers and the classification of tumors, and is helping match people with cancer to the best treatment options. All of these areas constitute a major leap in the precision of cancer care. Additionally, on the scientific side, the output of the CMO is illuminating previously unrecognized cancer-causing genetic changes and genetic interactions. The potential value of the data gathered extends far beyond patient care.