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U.S. National Institutes of Health
Scientific Programs
Last Updated: 12/04/12

Strategic Partnering to Evaluate Cancer Signatures (SPECS)


The goals of the SPECS programs are:

  • To translate molecular signatures/profiles derived from comprehensive molecular analysis of tumors to improved patient management and ultimately improved patient outcomes.
  • To establish strategic partnerships that bring together the interdisciplinary teams needed to evaluate the potential clinical utility of molecular signatures.
  • To evaluate molecular signatures previously correlated with important clinical parameters such as recurrence, survival or response to therapy.
  • To confirm and refine the molecular signatures.
  • To develop robust, reproducible assays for the signatures that can be incorporated into clinical validation trials.

These multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary teams include investigators from the Clinical Co-operative Groups, SPOREs, Cancer Centers, NCI intramural, the National Laboratories, community hospitals and individual academic institutions in the US and Europe.

SPECS II Projects

Through a competitive Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) the Cancer Diagnosis Program of the National Cancer Institute is pleased to announce the following projects have been selected for the SPECS II phase of the SPECS Program:

Project summaries from SPECS I funding awards can be found here.

Further Information:

If you require any further information or have questions regarding the SPECS program, please contact Dr. Tracy Lively (

Read More…

NCI’s SPECS Program Explores Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer
NCI Cancer Bulletin
July 5, 2006

In Memoriam: NCI’s Dr. James W. Jacobson
NCI Cancer Bulletin
January 10, 2010

Related Links

NCI’s Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments (TARGET) Initiative seeks to identify valid therapeutic targets in childhood cancers so new, more effective treatments can be developed.

Director’s Challenge: Toward a Molecular Classification of Cancer (1998-2004)
At a time when technologies for comprehensive molecular analysis of human tissues were still emerging, the investigators of the NCI Director's Challenge consortium achieved proof of principle that profiling the activity of large numbers of genes in a sample of tumor tissue could provide meaningful information about the clinical outcome for a cancer patient. Several of the signatures discovered by Director’s Challenge investigators have been further developed through the SPECS initiative and are entering prospective clinical trials and commercial development.