Research Sections

Section of Genetics

Identifying specific genes and gene variants that contribute to the development of cancer is important for a number of reasons, including achieving a greater understanding of the biological pathways that are involved in cancer and of how environmental factors may exert their effects in combination with genes. The elucidation of germline variation that contributes to cancer relies on the study of populations and requires accurate evaluation of lifestyle and environment. Although we sometimes study cancer clusters (within families), in general we must compare the genetic profiles of many thousands of cases and controls in order to identify new cancer genes and variants. Such extremely large studies are beyond the scope of any national group, and genetics has thus become very much an international collaborative endeavour. Initiating, coordinating, and facilitating such studies is an important area of work for the Section of Genetics (GEN).

GEN projects involve extensive fieldwork in collaboration with external investigators to develop large-scale epidemiological studies with appropriate clinical data and biosample collection. These types of projects are typically carried out within the Section′s Genetic Epidemiology Group (GEP), which also performs genome-wide genetic analysis and investigates the existence of gene‐environment interactions. The Genetic Cancer Susceptibility Group (GCS) focuses on identifying uncommon or rare genetic variants that contribute to genetic cancer susceptibility. GCS uses a variety of study designs, including familial and case-control studies, as well as advanced genomic and bioinformatic techniques. GCS also manages much of the genomics and bioinformatics activities of other IARC scientific groups. The Biostatistics Group (BST) provides the statistical foundation for all GEN projects and makes important contributions to the ever-evolving field of bioinformatics.