The agency has said that it hoped the Cancer Genome Atlas project will pinpoint hundreds or thousands of new genes involved in cancer, so that it can be used to develop better drugs to treat it and tools to diagnose it.
Acting director Dr. John Niederhuber of the National Cancer Institute, an NIH unit said, "Cancer is exceedingly complex, and includes more than 200 different diseases."
He said, "Results from the Cancer Genome Atlas Pilot Project may provide the results we need to detect cancer early, in its most treatable stage, and provide new targets for the development of specific therapies."
In the United States brain cancer, known as glioblastoma, lung cancer and ovarian cancer account for more than 210,000 cancer cases each year.
In 2006 lung cancer is expected to the death of 162,000 Americans. Nearly 19,000 people will be diagnosed with brain tumors and nearly 13,000 will die from them, while ovarian cancer will kill more than 15,000 women this year.
According to the cancer institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute these three cancers were chosen because they have the right number and quality of specimens to study.