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Research interests: behind the biological sample

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 02 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5231
  1. Eloiza H Tajara, associate professor, Department of Molecular Biology, School of Medicine of São José do Rio Preto, Av. Brigadeiro Faria Lima, 5416, Vila São Pedro, 15090-000, São José do Rio Preto, SP, Brazil,
  2. Luisa L Villa, associate professor, Department of Radiology and Oncology, School of Medicine, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil,
  3. Marcos B de Carvalho, oncologic surgeon and coordinator of research programs, Head & Neck Surgery Department, Heliópolis Hospital, São Paulo, SP, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to: Eloiza H Tajara tajara{at}

The GENCAPO (or Head and Neck Genome) project has been run since 2002 by a group of Brazilian surgeons, epidemiologists, pathologists, and biologists. The project aims to describe head and neck cancer signatures and understand the many clinical, diagnostic, and prognostic aspects of such tumours. More than 3500 patients have been interviewed, and many biological samples have been collected and analysed. However, alongside our enthusiasm for the research, a question has concerned and depressed us: what are we giving back to our patients?

We know that we cannot cure all of them or even, after invasive and sometimes disfiguring surgery, improve their quality of …

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