Cancer risk and the environment: New EU network for environmental cancer research

May 16, 2005

Brussels, 13 May 2005

WHAT? Launch event for the new European research Network of Excellence on environmental cancer (ECNIS) and workshop on EU-funded research on environmental cancer risks and regulation

WHEN? 23-24 May 2005 (Workshop)
25-26 May 2005 (ECNIS kick-off)
(press conference: 25 May 2005, 12:00-13:00 hrs)

(Bankowy Square, Warsaw, Poland)

On 23 and 24 May 2005 a workshop on EU-funded research on environmental cancer risks and regulation will take place at the Porczynski Gallery in the heart of Warsaw. The workshop will be followed by the launch event of the new European research network of excellence (NoE) on environmental cancer risks, nutrition and individual susceptibility (ECNIS). Over five years the ECNIS project is funded with €11 million as a grant for integration through the EU's Sixth Research Framework Programme (FP6, 2002-2006). ECNIS is coordinated by Konrad Rydzynski from the Nofer Institute (?odz, Poland). There are 24 institutions in the consortium, incl. three small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), representing altogether over a hundred established researchers and a number of students. ECNIS is one of the few large FP6 projects coordinated by Polish coordinator from a new Member State.

The focus of the workshop on 23 and 24 May in Warsaw will be to present research results form recent EU-funded research projects in this area and discuss the research agenda for the ECNIS project. By now, a number of cancer-related research projects funded by the European Union are coming to an end or have recently ended. This will be the first time that the Commission brings together such a large number of scientists working on different environmental stressors related to cancer with a view to discuss the results in time for the next research framework programme (FP7; 2007-2013).

Building on the previous work the ECNIS Network of Excellence will be launched on 25 May 2005. Its activities will cover populations from different regions of Europe with different climates, pollution levels and dietary habits, allowing for the assessment of exposure-response relationships over a wide range of environmental scenarios, so as to enable population studies at a scale that is not possible under the present conditions of research fragmentation.

The ultimate goal of ECNIS is to establish an internationally competitive network of European research centres to overcome the existing fragmentation of activities and to enhance the quality and relevance of research on environment, nutrition, and cancer risk as modulated by diet and genetic disposition. It will bring together researchers from various fields (epidemiology, chemical analysis, genetics, molecular biology, nutrition, exposure assessment, risk assessment, harmonisation of methodologies and analytical techniques) to identify data gaps and propose improvements of existing techniques. Through sharing of common materials and human resources, it will facilitate the creation of a dynamic European consortium in the area of environmental cancer risk, nutrition and individual susceptibility. It will not only conduct research, but will also be able of providing support and advice to regulators, industry and the general public. The main focus of this virtual research centre of excellence will be on the use of biomarkers of exposure and bio-indicators of disease in molecular epidemiology of cancer with the ultimate goal to reduce the cancer burden in Europe. Support for the development of functional foods constitutes a potential important spin-off from this NoE.

The overall objectives of ECNIS are to:

  • overcome the fragmented nature of research in areas related to carcinogenesis caused by diet, the environment, occupation, or lifestyle, as well as exposure assessment, within Europe;

  • integrate joint training and mobility programmes in area of environmental cancer molecular epidemiology;

  • develop and validate novel biomarkers of exposure, effect and susceptibility for environmental and occupational cancer risk assessment;

  • identify factors, which modulate the environmental and occupational cancer risk resulting from nutrition and lifestyle factors;

  • develop hazard and risk assessment strategies based on mechanism of action of carcinogens;

  • disseminate of acquired knowledge to the scientific community and external stakeholders;

  • disseminate of acquired knowledge to external stakeholders;

  • provide management structure for coordination of the network activities.

Many of the ECNIS activities will be open to outside participation: for example, the ECNIS training courses, and the network may expand and take on new members during its lifetime. After five years, it is expected that the network will have become a permanent, self-standing structure. Although based in Europe, the ECNIS will extend its activities beyond Europe via international contacts.

Additional information on press opportunities

Contacts for further information:

ECNIS Network of Excellence
Prof. Konrad Rydzynski
Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine
sw. Teresy 8, box 199
90-950 ?odz, Poland
phone: +48 42 6314504
fax: +48 42 6568331

EC Scientific Officers
Dr Tuomo Karjalainen (, Tel. +32-2-2984660
Ms Minna Wilkki (, Tel. +32-2-2995573
European Commission, Research DG, Food quality unit, B-1049 Brussels, Belgium
Fax +32-2-2964322

Media contact:
Michael H. Wappelhorst, Press and information officer
European Commission, Research DG
B-1049 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32.2.298 75 75, Fax: +32.2.295 82 20, (

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