1. Coordinate the generation of comprehensive catalogues of genomic abnormalities (somatic mutations) in tumors in 50 different cancer types and/or subtypes which are of clinical and societal importance across the globe.
Ensure high quality by defining the catalogue for each tumor type or subtype to include the full range of somatic mutations including single-nucleotide variants, insertions, deletions, copy number changes, translocations and other chromosomal rearrangements, and to have the following features:
- Comprehensiveness, such that most cancer genes with somatic abnormalities occurring at a frequency of greater than 3% are discovered;
- High resolution, ideally at sequence-level resolution;
- High quality, using common quality standards for pathology and technology;
- Based on control data, generated from matched non-tumor tissue, to distinguish somatic aberrations from inherited sequence variants.
2. Generate complementary catalogues of transcriptomic and epigenomic datasets from the same tumors.
3. Make the data available to the entire research community as rapidly as possible, and with minimal restrictions, to accelerate research into the causes and control of cancer.
4. Coordinate research efforts so that the interests and priorities of individual participants, self-organizing consortia, funding agencies and nations are addressed, including use of the burden of disease as a criterion for target selection, and the minimization of unnecessary redundancy in tumor analysis efforts.
5. Support the dissemination of knowledge and standards related to new technologies, software, and methods to facilitate data integration and sharing with cancer researchers around the globe.
Given the many uncertainties in a project of this scope -- such as in predicting the speed at which technologies will evolve, the time that will be needed to acquire sufficient numbers of high-quality samples for some of the proposed tumor types, and other factors -- the ultimate timeframe to generate data for 50 tumor types cannot be accurately projected, but it is anticipated to take several years. On the other hand, data from some of the tumor projects already underway will actually begin to be available soon after launching the ICGC.