Skip Navigation
National Cancer Institute
U.S. National Institutes of Health
The caBIG program has been retired, and while this website is being maintained temporarily to prevent broken links and provide access to information on the subset of caBIG projects that were transitioned into the new NCIP program, it will be archived in the near future. For information on the NCI's biomedical informatics program, please visit

The information and links on this website are no longer being updated and are provided for reference purposes only.


Health of Women Study

In July 2009, the National Cancer Institute, the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, and the City of Hope announced their collaboration to create a 21st century research model—the Health of Women (HOW) Study—to build the first ever online cohort of one million women.

This collaboration takes advantage of the Love/Avon Army of Women, a groundbreaking initiative that was launched in October 2008 to recruit women of all ages and ethnicities, with or without breast cancer to sign up for clinical research investigating the causes and prevention of breast cancer.

"In this partnership, caBIG« provides the biomedical informatics support—developing easy access Web-based software that connects women and researchers with the goal of improving prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer."

-Ken Buetow, Ph.D. (NCI)

Members of the Army of Women are invited to join the Health of Women study and to respond to a series of periodic secure online questionnaires concerning their health history. Authorized researchers, who are partners in this initiative, can then access the database and design study protocols based on the clinical profiles and data of potential research participants. The goal is for this project to enable an "interactive" and "dynamic" approach to research.

"We would not be able to do this project without the collaboration of caBIG«... leveraging a lot of what has been done already and has been built by caBIG« and BIG Health has allowed us to jump start."

-Susan Love, M.D. (Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation)

The HOW Study was first launched by sending an email invitation to the 250,000 women already enrolled Army of Women at that time. With a single contact, 10,000 women participated in the first set of questions/modules within ten days and nearly 30,000 women completed the first module in the first month—a remarkable response for such a study given the time, and "low-touch" nature.

"I have colleagues who have been working for years to collect the amount of data that we were able to collect within a couple of weeks. In fact, in the first ten days of our study, ten thousand women joined and completed the questionnaire."

-Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D. (Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope)

Using the HOW Study as a model, other cancer advocacy groups or affinity organizations can undertake similar web-based research studies using this technology—mobilizing large numbers of consumers and patients to share health information for cohort studies in other types of cancer.

One million women. One research goal. One revolutionary opportunity. Together we can prevent breast cancer.

In The News

NCI Tackles Trial Enrollment
The Scientist discusses the collaboration between caBIG« and the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.

Love/Avon Army of Women to Use NCI's caBIG« Computational Platform for Breast Cancer Research
GenomeWeb/BioInform reports on how caBIG« is serving as the computational infrastructure for this joint venture.

Other Resources

Listen to this podcast about this collaboration.

Download the transcript.

"We would not be able to do this project without the collaboration of caBIG«."
(Susan Love, M.D., Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation)

Download Dr. Love's presentation.

"This is the first 21st Century biomedical research network that puts consumers centrally in control of what's going on."
(Ken Buetow, Ph.D., National Cancer Institute)

Download Dr. Buetow's presentation.

The information and links on this website are no longer being updated and are provided for reference purposes only.