As outlined in Figure 1, EGM combines molecular epidemiology and experimental studies to investigate the roles of (epi)genomic and other molecular changes and deregulated pathways induced by environmental or lifestyle factors in cancer development, and to identify cancer biomarkers. EGM builds on existing and new collaborative work on human biospecimens using genomic platforms, molecular and cell biology, and biochemistry tools. EGM also develops relevant innovative methodologies, molecular profiling strategies, cancer modelling systems, and bioinformatics tools, applicable to population-based cohorts and molecular epidemiology studies coordinated by IARC researchers and external collaborators.
The overarching objective of EGM is to advance the understanding of cancer causes and of the underlying mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and thus enrich the evidence base for cancer prevention. This is achieved by exploiting conceptual and technological advances in molecular and cell biology. EGM’s ambition is to remain at the forefront of the field of laboratory science and molecular epidemiology by adopting new conceptual and technological advances and by capitalizing on IARC’s unique role in international cancer research. This includes, for example, CRISPR/Cas9 and dCas9-manipulated two-dimensional and three-dimensional cell exposure models such as organoids, somatic genetics (with a focus on mutational signatures and DNA damage signalling as opposed to genome-wide association studies or analysis of single-nucleotide polymorphisms), and epigenetics (with a focus on DNA methylation and modulations of chromatin and of the transcriptome).
Considering these objectives and opportunities, EGM contributes to IARC’s overall mission by extending the current knowledge of cancer etiology and by providing the evidence base for carcinogen evaluation and cancer prevention. EGM’s strategy builds on its strengths and recent achievements and capitalizes on opportunities brought about by conceptual and technological advances in the fields of laboratory science, molecular epidemiology, and computational science. For current and future work, EGM is focusing on three priority areas: (i) environmental exposures, (epi)genetic changes, and cancer risk throughout the life-course, (ii) the functional role of genetic and epigenetic changes in carcinogenesis, and (iii) obesity, epigenetic changes, and cancer.
EGM gratefully acknowledges funding from the European Union, the National Institutes of Health–National Cancer Institute (USA), the Institut National du Cancer (INCa, France), and international and national cancer charities: Association pour la Recherche sur le Cancer (ARC, France), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR, Canada), Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail (ANSES, France), Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM, France), Worldwide Cancer Research (United Kingdom), New Frontiers in Research Fund (Canada), World Cancer Research Fund International, Research Foundation Flanders (FWO, Belgium), Cancer Research UK, and Ligue nationale contre le Cancer (France).