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The CTS: Then and Now

We've officially reached 25 years!

In the fall of 1996, we mailed our first study newsletter. Along with study updates, it contained the following note describing the future of the California Teachers Study:

"Over the years, we will be able to compare the information which you provided "way back in 1995-1996" with subsequent events,

learning more about causes and prevention of breast cancer and other diseases."

Here we are, a quarter of a century later. Looking at that first newsletter, it's remarkable to think of how much we have achieved together. As we enter a new academic year together during an unprecedented time, we're looking back at what has happened in the two and a half decades since we sent you that first study questionnaire "way back" in 1995.

The 1990's:

1993: California passes the California Breast Cancer Act of 1993, which increased the tax on tobacco packs by 2 cents to fund breast cancer research.

1995: The first California Teachers Study questionnaire is mailed to active teachers, administrators, and other members of the California State Teachers' Retirement System to invite them to participate in a new breast cancer study.

1996: By mid-1996, 133,477 women had completed the first questionnaire, and the California Teachers Study was officially underway!

1997: The second study questionnaire (Questionnaire 2) is mailed to study participants.

1998: Google, Inc. is established.

The 2000's:
One of the first CTS publications

2000: The CTS recruits a small group of study participants in Northern California to study the relationship between diet and disease and identify any differences between participants living in urban and rural areas.

2002: Our first study publication! This hallmark paper found that study participants had a higher breast cancer incidence rate than would be expected base on race-specific statewide rates. The findings validated the need to further examine why teachers might be at higher risk of cancer.

This same year, the CTS disseminates Questionnaire 3 and launches the NEET study, which would collect biospecimens from approximately 1500 participants.

2003: The Human Genome Project, an international research effort to sequence all the letters of the human genome, is completed. The success of this project set the stage for research on genetics & health.

2005: The CTS embarks on an ambitious, multi-year grant to collect thousands of blood and saliva samples from study participants for future research on how genetic changes and environmental and chemical exposures may be related to breast cancer.

Questionnaire 4 is mailed to study participants.

2007: The first iPhone hits the market. The advent of smartphone technology would later change how the CTS collects data and communicates with study participants!

2009: CTS researchers share data with a national collaboration of many other studies; using these data, researchers identify a gene variant found to be linked with increased risk of endometrial cancer. This is one of the first CTS publications on genetics & cancer risk.

The 2010's:

2010: The first iPad is released.

2012: The CTS launches a new Biobanking for the Future project to collect additional blood and saliva specimens. Leveraging mobile applications, tablets, an online study management platform, text messaging, and email, this project would revolutionize how the CTS uses technology to collect high-quality biospecimens from study participants.

Questionnaire 5 is mailed to study participants.

2013: The CTS celebrates 100 scientific publications!

2015: With a new grant from the National Cancer Institute, the California Teachers Study begins constructing a Data Warehouse Environment specifically for CTS data, harnessing the technological advances of the last decade to make study data more accessible for research.

2016: The recent biobanking project ends, having superseded the grant’s goals & collecting more than 14,000 new biospecimens for future research.

2017: Questionnaire 6 is disseminated to study participants using a web-based survey option; respondents completed their questionnaires on smartphones, tablets, laptops, or desktop computers.

Between October and November, wildfires rage across California, affecting numerous study participants.

2018: A paper version of Questionnaire 6 is mailed to participants who opted not to complete the Questionnaire online.

2019: The COVID-19 pandemic begins.

2020: 25 Years

We have lived a lot of life together -- through technological, social, scientific, and personal changes.

This year alone, the CTS celebrated 200 scientific publications, moved study operations entirely online in response to COVID-19, joined two COVID-19 research initiatives, welcomed new researchers, and continued to conduct vital research on breast and other cancers.

We're so grateful for your continued participation, and excited to continue this important work together. We look forward to another 25!


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