In a collaborative effort organized by the New York Genome Center (NYGC), leaders of the New York City (NYC) cancer research community are joining together to harness the city’s strengths— its diverse population, its vast number of residents, and its outstanding academic medical institutions— to advance cancer genomics and its practice in cancer care. The vision of this project, called Polyethnic-1000, is to improve outcomes for cancer patients of multiple ethnicities, including those who lack access to the most recent advances in medical science, by bringing the new genomic methods that are transforming all aspects of oncology to patient populations that are generally under-represented in research and too often deprived of the benefits of scientific progress.
Recent advances in DNA sequencing technologies have revolutionized the prevention, risk assessment, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancers. However, our understanding of the relationship between genetic tests and cancer treatment are at an early stage scientifically, and many ethnic groups, especially non-European minorities, have been significantly under-represented in 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 and applied to patients of European descent. These inequities limit our understanding of disease and may exacerbate health disparities in the United States.
The Polyethnic-1000 team will address both scientific issues and economic inequities by creating a dynamic research platform within the greater NYC 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 community health centers to advance cancer genomics and enable, improve, and widen the use of genomics for all.