My previous post highlighted how the imaging community is leveraging NCIP Hub’s capabilities to run its image analysis needs and to collaborate on tool development. This post discusses how the NCI plans to use NCIP Hub to address the need for robust, reliable translational use of mouse and human-in-mouse models.
The NCI established the Mouse Models of Human Cancers Consortium (NCI-MMHCC) in 1999 as a collaborative research program for deriving and characterizing mouse models, as well as generating resources, information, and innovative approaches for application of the models to cancer research. For 15 years, the NCI-MMHCC combined expertise from many aspects of basic, translational, clinical, and genetics research to derive, validate, and credential entirely new generations of genetically engineered mouse models of cancer.
As a result, there exists an extensive repertoire of mouse cancer models, to which are added an increasing collection of human-in-mouse models. However, despite the ever-growing adoption of these models in translational cancer research, there is no comprehensive resource to guide researchers. With the conclusion of the NCI-MMHCC as a nexus for mouse modeling, the present challenge for the NCI is to ensure that valuable mouse and human-in-mouse model resources remain discoverable and are utilized appropriately and effectively in cancer research.
To address this, the NCI will use NCIP Hub to establish an Oncology Models Forum. A Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) was published that invited grant applications to establish and maintain the Forum. As a community-generated enterprise, the Forum will foster the evolution of new mouse model resources to address the needs of the cancer research community.
“We do not want for us, at the National Cancer Institute, to prescribe what the cancer research community needs are for models. We would like the community to be invested in the Forum as a locus for evolving translational requirements for models,” says Dr. Cheryl Marks, the Associate Director of the NCI’s Division of Cancer Biology, who was also the Program Director for the NCI-MMHCC. “The Oncology Models Forum is an important experiment in fostering collaborations across oncology communities and disciplines that might not otherwise collaborate. In essence, it is a translational mouse models community without walls.”
Dr. Marks emphasizes the abundant educational capabilities of NCIP Hub. For example, even with the growing adoption of mouse and human-in-mouse models in cancer research, Dr. Marks describes an often-cited critical issue: The ability of other laboratories to reproduce the experimental data derived from those models. Journals do not publish all the necessary detailed information about the models themselves and the methods for their use to ensure that subsequent users can reproduce the published results. Often this contributes to suboptimal use of costly mouse models. By sharing workflow documents, data, analytical tools, documentation of protocols and statistical designs, and other information on the Forum’s NCIP Hub site, researchers will be able to supplement their published articles with details that enable others to employ the same models appropriately. When published on NCIP Hub, these resources become citable sources — valuable documentation that journal articles often do not depict.
“Through the Oncology Models Forum, the research community will learn collaboratively how to be responsive to each other’s needs.” Dr. Marks anticipates that the Forum will enable the oncology community to steer mouse modeling research and models’ applications in the directions that meet the most pressing needs. With the power of community participation, the Oncology Models Forum can become a resource that enriches and empowers reliable mouse model use for translational research.