Role of the Functional Genomics Initiative

The Functional Genomics Initiative (FGI) has three primary functions that are performed through the FGI Council:

CMO Data Mining and Dissemination

The FGI Council facilitates the mining of data generated by the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology (CMO) for information on the identity of genes and pathways that are implicated in the genesis, progression, or therapeutic response of tumors. FGI Council members attend monthly genomics tumor board meetings at which CMO data trends are discussed. The council also holds regular meetings with CMO leadership to discuss emerging trends in the data and disseminate the resulting data and insights to MSK faculty with relevant expertise or research interests.

The main instrument for CMO data dissemination is the cBioPortal. The FGI Council provides guidance to MSK investigators on the means to access and query CMO data in the cBioPortal. The council also provides tutorials to promote use of the cBioPortal by individual MSK investigators.

The FGI director presents updates to the SKI Steering Committee and to regular Sloan Kettering Institute and Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program faculty meetings as needed. 

Cancer Gene Curation

The FGI identifies new genes and pathways that should be considered for inclusion in the CMO DNA sequencing platform, called MSK-IMPACT™. Currently, nearly 400 genes are included in the MSK-IMPACT panel. Based on its expertise, the FGI Council can recommend additions as trends emerge from CMO data, research at MSK labs, or the field at large.

The curatorial function of the FGI also entails the identification of “gene experts” among the MSK faculty who, because of their expertise regarding the functions of particular genes or sets of genes, provide insight to both the clinical and research teams for whom such expertise would be beneficial. This function promotes integration of research strengths centerwide and enhances the scientific impact of the CMO data. 

Research Funding Advice

The FGI advises MSK and its investigators on research-funding decisions based on projects emerging from the mining and dissemination of CMO-generated data. The FGI Council functions as a standing committee to evaluate the merit of specific research projects that emerge from the mining of CMO data.

  1. Rapid Response Pilot Project Awards: A mechanism in which investigators can obtain seed money to develop the potential of new data emerging from the CMO. Applications for these awards, typically $25,000 each, are accepted by the FGI Council on an ongoing basis. Support to successful applicants begins within three to four weeks of submission. This unique mechanism allows MSK investigators to act quickly on new leads and maximize the opportunity for advancement in a competitive timeframe.

  2. Functional Genomics Initiative Research Awards: Proposals for support of up to $200,000 per year for two to three years are considered. Successful proposals should address functional and mechanistic implications of genetic information flowing from the CMO. The scope of the proposals should include, but not be limited to, functional analyses of genomic data using model organisms, molecular or biochemical approaches, and bioinformatic analyses. Full Project Grants do not require that the research project received prior Pilot Project funding.