the FY 1997 total. The bulk of NHLBI's cancer-related research funding is for basic scientific projects that are not targeted to specific populations.
NHLBI reports that before FY 1997 it did not support any cancer research relevant to minority and medically underserved populations. According to NHLBI Director Claude Lenfant, "The NHLBI does not have any processes for establishing priorities for cancer-related research among minority and medically underserved populations. Research on cancer and research on cancer in minorities are not part of the mission of the NHLBI, except for the WHI which NHLBI administers as part of a NIH consortium with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), and the National Institute on Aging (NIA)" (Lenfant, 1998, p. 1).
In FY 1997, NHLBI supported aspects of WHI that included research on cancer (approximately 40 percent of the total WHI contract). NHLBI estimates that the minority population of these study trials is approximately 20 percent. WHI is a cross-institute collaboration that examines the effects of promising interventions, such as hormone replacement therapy and dietary modification, in preventing a number of common diseases among women, including coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer (specifically, breast and colorectal cancers). In addition, WHI attempts to identify risk factors for these diseases and assess the feasibility of various community-based programs of preventive care.
The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) was established in 1989 first as a center, then as an Institute in 1997 to lead NIH's efforts in the Human Genome Project, including chromosome mapping, DNA sequencing, DNA-based diagnostics and gene therapy development, database development, technology development for genome research, and studies of the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetics research. Cancer-related research represents a significant proportion of NHGRI's portfolio, including work conducted in the Laboratory of Cancer Genetics, where researchers are seeking to understand genetic changes in somatic cells that lead to cancer, inherited mutations that predispose individuals to cancer, and genes involved in the development of malignant characteristics in cancer cells, such as drug resistance and metastasis.
Of note in NHGRI's cancer research portfolio is a collaborative effort between NHGRI and NIH's ORMH to establish an intramural research project, the Center for Collaborative Research on Genomic Analyses of Diseases that Disproportionately Affect African Americans, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., an historically black university. NHGRI and ORMH have identified four principal objectives of this collaboration: