The National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) have begun a comprehensive effort to understand the molecular basis of cancer using genome-analysis techniques. A three-year, $100 million pilot program was announced on Dec. 13 to determine the feasibility of creating a systematic atlas of genomic changes involved in all types of human cancer. The initial project will study the science and technology framework needed to identify the genetic mutations and other changes associated with cancer. It will involve only a few types of cancer for evaluating the feasibility of the larger scale program. Francis S. Collins, director of NHGRI, said it is time for such a program. "Given the genetic complexity of cancer, we are certain to face many daunting challenges in this pilot. By pulling together some of the best minds in the cancer and genomics research communities, I am confident the pilot will succeed," he said. Much of the initial research will focus on new technology development for genome analysis and will emphasize new approaches such as epigenomics-the impact of small groups on gene function-in cancer causation.