In a new collaborative effort organized by the New York Genome Center (NYGC), leaders of the New York City cancer research community have joined together to advance cancer genomics and its practice in clinical care by leveraging the City’s famously large and diverse population. The vision of this project, called Polyethnic-1000, is to deepen our understanding of the contributions ethnicities make to the incidence and behavior of cancers, thereby improving outcomes for many patients, especially those who currently lack access to the most recent advances in medical science. This will be achieved by bringing genomic innovation to patient populations generally under-represented in research and hence deprived of the benefits of scientific progress.
Recent advances in DNA sequencing technologies have revolutionized approaches to the prevention, risk assessment, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancers. However, many ethnic groups, especially non-European minorities, have been significantly under-represented in cancer research, including clinical trials, and have not received equal benefits in clinical practice. As a result, our current knowledge about tumor biology, cancer risk, and response to treatment has primarily been derived from patients of European descent. These inequities limit our understanding of the many types of cancer and may exacerbate health disparities in the United States. In this proposal, we address both the scientific and social issues by creating a dynamic research platform within the greater New York area that promises to enhance the ways in which cancer is prevented, diagnosed, and treated. Polyethnic-1000 will establish a framework to enhance interactions among our region’s academic and health centers to advance cancer genomics. These efforts should improve and widen the use of genomics for all, especially currently underserved ethnic minority populations.