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Press releases / 09.14.15

Broad Institute named as one of two national genome characterization centers

Cambridge, Mass., September 14th, 2015

Broad Institute and University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston will become the flagship data-production centers for a pioneering five-year project supported by the National Cancer Institute to characterize the genomic changes found in tumors. GCC funding comes via a research subcontract with Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc., operations and technical support contractor for NCI’s Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.

As part of the NCI effort the Broad Institute will sequence patient tumors to accelerate the development of effective treatments to fight the disease.

“Since 2004, the Broad Institute has been an international leader in large-scale genomic analysis, and this new initiative is a tremendous opportunity to apply our knowledge and know-how to further reveal the genomic landscape of cancer,” said Stacey Gabriel, senior director of the Broad Institute Genomics Platform and principal investigator on the project. “Together with the NCI, we will provide the cancer research community the resources needed to apply the latest genomic characterization technologies to important NCI studies that will ultimately combine genomic and clinical information within patient cohorts.”

The Broad Institute has extensive experience and demonstrated success in data generation and the analysis of cancer genomics. From 2006 to 2014, the Broad Institute was the leading contributor to The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a joint project between the National Human Genome Research Institute and the NCI aimed at identifying the mutations that underlie different cancers. In addition to providing the majority of the sequencing data, the Broad Institute oversaw three pivotal TCGA research centers: the Genome Sequencing Center, one of six Genome Characterization Centers, and one of six Genome Data Analysis Centers. To date, data generated by the TCGA effort has helped identify nearly 10 million mutations in tumors.
Beyond cancer, the Broad Institute has served as a flagship center for the genetic and molecular analysis of numerous common diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

Along with its expertise in large-scale sequencing projects, the Broad Institute has helped pioneer new techniques to generate high-quality data on challenging sample types, such as those with limited material and with Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded, or FFPE specimens. The Genomics Platform of the Broad Institute will leverage these capabilities as part of the GCC effort, which requires a diverse sample set to enable the collection of large tumor cohorts.

“I am glad to have the Broad Institute as an integral partner of the NCI large-scale genomic programs,” said Jean C. ZenKlusen, Ph.D., Director of NCI’s Cancer Genome Atlas. “They have demonstrated the ability to produce the highest-quality data in their participation on The Cancer Genome Atlas, and I know they will bring the same level of performance to these new initiatives.”

As a GCC, over the next five years Broad Institute will produce genomic data for leading NCI tumor sequencing projects and will provide Whole Genome, Whole Exome and RNA sequencing to support three main project areas:

  1. The Exceptional Responders Initiative aimed at discovering and understanding the molecular events involved in extraordinary individual responses to otherwise unsuccessful targeted experimental cancer therapies
  2. The ALCHEMIST Project (Adjuvant Lung Cancer Enrichment Marker Identification and Sequencing Trials) aimed at providing molecular data to support biomarker classification and genomic characterization of lung cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials
  3. The Cancer Driver Discovery Project aimed at providing additional statistical power to discover driver mutations in lung, colon and ovarian cancer

This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHSN261200800001E.

This is the second major NCI contract awarded to the Broad Institute in the last 12 months. In October 2014, Broad Institute was awarded one of three NCI Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilot contracts, with the goal of building a system that will enable large-scale analysis of The Cancer Genome Atlas and other datasets by co-locating the data and the required computing resources in one cloud environment. This co-location enables researchers to use Broad methods or import their own analytical methods to analyze large datasets in an efficient, cost-effective manner, thereby promoting collaboration across the cancer genomics community.

About the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard was launched in 2004 to empower this generation of creative scientists to transform medicine. The Broad Institute seeks to describe all the molecular components of life and their connections; discover the molecular basis of major human diseases; develop effective new approaches to diagnostics and therapeutics; and disseminate discoveries, tools, methods and data openly to the entire scientific community.

Founded by MIT, Harvard and its affiliated hospitals, and the visionary Los Angeles philanthropists Eli and Edythe L. Broad, the Broad Institute includes faculty, professional staff and students from throughout the MIT and Harvard biomedical research communities and beyond, with collaborations spanning over a hundred private and public institutions in more than 40 countries worldwide. For further information about the Broad Institute, go to

The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

For more information, contact:
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Paul Goldsmith