International Mammalian Genome Society

logo18th International Mouse Genome Conference

17-22 October 2004, Seattle, USA


Marks CL

National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD, United States

In 1999, the National Cancer Institute (NCI/NIH) confronted the critical need for vastly improved model systems to inform basic, clinical, epidemiologic, and translational cancer investigations.  The ability to manipulate the germline of laboratory mice, coupled with an unprecedented store of data about genetic alterations implicated in human cancer and the rapid acquisition of human and mouse genomic sequences prompted the NCI to implement a collaborative project of mouse cancer modeling. 

The resulting research program, the Mouse Models of Human Cancers Consortium (MMHCC), has expertise in many aspects of basic, translational, clinical, and epidemiological research and mouse genetics.  The MMHCC is continually challenged by the NCI to identify the most pressing questions in cancer biology and translational science and to direct cancer modeling skills to those questions.  The initial program of 19 research groups was recently expanded to 25; the increased size requires the NCI to revisit how to manage the MMHCC to preserve the free exchange of ideas and spirit of cooperation that are hallmarks, and great strengths, of the program.

The 250-member MMHCC cooperates with the NCI to evolve an integrative systems approach to human cancer research.  The NCI Center for Bioinformatics integrates descriptive cancer model information with comparable human disease data.  The Center maintains the Cancer Models Database and the Cancer Images Database to house descriptive data about all types of in vitro and in vivo cancer models.  Any researcher may submit data to these databases to ensure that the information store reflects the experience of the community of cancer researchers who explore how well the models inform human cancer therapy, prevention, early detection, imaging, and population science.  The MMHCC eMICE website ( is the interface to all the NCI’s preclinical models programs, resources, and databases. 

The MMHCC members collaborate with the NCI to convene community-based meetings to promote state-of-the-art mouse cancer science and advise the NCI on the resources and infrastructure to sustain development and application of mouse models by anyone in the cancer research community.  One key resource is the Mouse Repository (, which the NCI established in 2000 to deploy fully developed mouse cancer models and the strains that are used to derive models free-of-charge to the worldwide scientific community.

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