City of Hope Receives $12 Million NCI Grant Supporting Innovative Cloud-Based Approach

The grant will fund large-scale population studies on cancer epidemiology research

DUARTE, Calif.--()--City of Hope today announced that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded more than $12 million to City of Hope supporting the landmark California Teachers Study (CTS). The five-year NCI award will fund the CTS’s innovative approach of using secure, cloud-based data management and technology to conduct large-scale cancer epidemiology research.

“I’m thrilled that the NCI has funded us to take on this ambitious project,” said James Lacey Jr., Ph.D., associate professor in the Division of Cancer Etiology at Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope and CTS lead principal investigator. “On one hand, it’s a testament to the California Teachers Study that we’ve been able to successfully use the same methods for so long. On the other hand, there’s a growing recognition that epidemiology must find better ways to utilize new technologies so that we can improve the study and the participants’ experience overall. A cloud-based approach will improve the quality of our data, expand the types of questions we’re able to ask and answer, and elevate this study to more of a true partnership between us and our generous participants.”

In this new project, the CTS team will introduce three new methods to manage the infrastructure of this large, longitudinal study:

  • Secure cloud computing will give all CTS investigators on-demand access to all study data collected over the last 20 years;
  • New Web-based and mobile-enabled questionnaires will expand data collection and improve data reliability; and
  • User-friendly Web-based participant portals will give participants direct and secure access to the information they have provided to the CTS.

Using this methodology, the CTS will transform how study participants engage with study data and how data is collected, stored and shared for high-impact research. As one of the first large-scale studies to replace its traditional infrastructure with these new approaches, the CTS will also openly share lessons learned and will invite the broader research community to observe and be part of this exciting transition.

The study is a collaboration between City of Hope and University of Southern California (USC), University of California, Irvine, and the Cancer Prevention Institute of California. Each of these partners makes vital contributions to the management of daily CTS operations and to the study’s scientific research.

Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., professor and director of the Division of Cancer Etiology within the Department of Population Sciences in City of Hope’s Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope since 2007, is co-principal investigator of this U01 grant, and brought the CTS to City of Hope when she moved from USC. Sophia Wang, Ph.D., professor in the Division of Cancer Etiology is the grant’s co-investigator and Susan Neuhausen, Ph.D., The Morris & Horowitz Families Professor in Cancer Etiology & Outcomes Research; Huiyan Ma, Ph.D.; Jessica Clague DeHart, Ph.D., M.P.H.; and Jane Sullivan-Halley are members of the CTS Steering Committee.

This project also marks the addition of The Health Cyberinfrastructure Division of the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at University of California, San Diego, to the study team. SDSC is being awarded approximately $4 million to assist in the consolidation of all CTS data, and will design, build and implement a dedicated cloud-based data management platform within its Sherlock Cloud infrastructure.

The CTS team already has experience in employing cloud-based management systems for epidemiology and biobanking. Since 2012, funded by a four-year grant from the NCI and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the CTS team has used cloud computing, Web applications and a mobile-enabled data tracking system to collect blood samples from study participants. This CTS biobanking project has already demonstrated significant improvements in data management, cost-effectiveness and study efficiency.

“As epidemiologists, our top priority is using our data to answer health’s most pressing questions,” Lacey explained. “Now we have access to even better technology and tools to help us do that even faster, safer and better. What we’ve achieved with our biobanking project over the last three years opened our eyes to how transformative these approaches can be. That’s why our entire team is so excited to embark on this new project.”

The project described is supported by grant number CA199277 from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

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About City of Hope

City of Hope is an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the nation. City of Hope’s main hospital is located in Duarte, California, just northeast of Los Angeles, with clinics throughout Southern California. It is ranked as one of "America's Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics.

About the California Teachers Study

The CTS consists of 133,479 current and former public school teachers or administrators who were members of the California State Teachers Retirement System and agreed in 1995 to have their health and lifestyle tracked to help understand why teachers have historically had higher rates of breast cancer. The CTS was initially supported by the state of California through revenue generated by cigarette taxes for the purpose of supporting breast cancer research. Today, the CTS functions as a collaboration among City of Hope, University of Southern California, University of California, Irvine, and the Cancer Prevention Institute of California.


City of Hope
Letisia Marquez, 626-218-3398

Release Summary

City of Hope today announced that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded more than $12 million to City of Hope supporting the landmark California Teachers Study (CTS).


City of Hope
Letisia Marquez, 626-218-3398