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The National Cancer Institute's goal is to stimulate and support scientific discovery and its application to achieve a future when all cancers are uncommon and easily treated. NCI works towards this goal in two major ways. We provide vision to the Nation and leadership for NCI-funded researchers across the United States and around the world. We work to ensure that the results of research are used in public health programs and clinical practice to reduce the burden of cancer for all people.
Our activities encompass three key components required for a strong cancer research enterprise:
Our ultimate purpose is to help move research findings into clinical practice, chart and improve the quality of cancer prevention and care, and reduce disparities in the burden of cancer. We sponsor and conduct cancer research that will expand our understanding of cancer and develop improvements in prevention and care. We encourage creativity and innovation in all of our endeavors; support development of, access to, and use of new technologies by cancer researchers; and back up these approaches by providing research training and career development opportunities and maintaining support mechanisms and collaborative environments to link scientists with their colleagues and with critical technological and information resources.
The results of NCI-sponsored Intramural and Extramural research consistently provide cancer patients and those who care for them with information, tools, and tests that impact cancer care and help people make better health choices. Some investigators conduct basic laboratory research on genes that may cause cancer. Others are studying the incidence of cancer in specific populations, such as farm families and former smokers. Still other scientists focus on translational research, such as developing tests to identify patients who carry genes that may make them susceptible to cancer, or clinical trials to determine the effectiveness of new diagnostic tools or drugs for treating cancer.
In addition to direct research funding, NCI offers cancer scientists a variety of useful research tools and services. Among the research resources made available to investigators at little or no cost are tissue samples, mouse models of cancers, statistics on cancer incidence and mortality, databases of genetic information, and mouse software for analyzing statistical and genetic data.
NCI invests in preparing the next generation of cancer researchers and ensuring a steady flow of well trained investigators. Each year, we provide cancer research training and career development opportunities to more than 2,000 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and oncologists. Some of this research training takes place on the NIH campus, but most goes on in universities and teaching hospitals around the United States.
August 5, 1937 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the National Cancer Institute Act.
November 9, 1937 – The National Advisory Cancer Council held its first meeting.
November 27, 1937 – The Surgeon General awarded first grants-in-aid on the recommendation of the National Advisory Cancer Council.
January 3, 1938 – The National Advisory Cancer Council recommended approval of first awards for fellowships in cancer research.
August 1940 – The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published its first issue.
July 1, 1946 – The cancer control program was established with appropriations to the states for support of cancer control activities. Staff was organized into six sections: biology, biochemistry, biophysics, chemotherapy, epidemiology, and pathology.
July 1, 1947 – NCI reorganized to provide an expanded program of intramural cancer research, cancer research grants, and cancer control activities.
November 13, 1947 – The Research Grants and Fellowship Branch was established. It became the administrative arm of the Advisory Council.
October 1948 – A grants program to medical, dental, and osteopathic schools was initiated for improvement of training in the field of cancer research, diagnosis, and treatment.
July 2, 1953 – NCI inaugurated a full-scale clinical research program in the new Clinical Center.
April 1955 – The Cancer Chemotherapy National Service Center was established in the institute to coordinate the first national, voluntary, cooperative cancer chemotherapy program.
1957 – The first malignancy (choriocarcinoma) was cured with chemotherapy at NCI.
November 1959 – The Journal of the National Cancer Institute inaugurated a series of occasional publications as Monographs to be used for in-depth scientific communications in specific subject areas.
September 13, 1960 – The NCI director appointed an associate director for grants and training, associate director for field studies, and associate director for collaborative research.
January 12, 1961 – The Laboratory of Viral Oncology was established to investigate the relationship of viruses to human cancer.
April 2, 1962 – An exhibit, “Man Against Cancer,” opened in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the institute’s 25th anniversary and inaugurate Cancer Progress Year.
May 7, 1962 – The Acute Leukemia Task Force held its first meeting. It focused the combined efforts and resources of scientists on studies of therapy of the acute leukemia patient, and was the forerunner of other task forces on specific forms of cancer.
October 25, 1962 – The Human Cancer Virus Task Force held its first meeting. The task force, of scientists from NCI and other institutions, stimulated the development of special programs in viral oncology.
1963 – Studies were initiated at NCI in Hodgkin’s disease with combination chemotherapy.
December 1964 – The report of the President’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke was published.
January 11, 1966 – NCI reorganized to coordinate related activities. Scientific directors oversaw three newly established scientific divisions: etiology, chemotherapy, and a group of discipline-oriented laboratories and branches referred to as general laboratories and clinics. Two associate directors were named for program and for extramural activities.
February 13, 1967 – A cancer research center, USPHS Hospital, was established in Baltimore by the institute to conduct an integrated program of laboratory and clinical research.
April 27, 1970 – At the request of Senator Ralph W. Yarborough, chairman of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, the Senate approved the establishment of the National Panel of Consultants on the Conquest of Cancer.
November 25, 1970 – The national panel of consultants submitted to the Senate committee a report entitled “National Program for the Conquest of Cancer.”
October 18, 1971 – President Nixon converted the Army’s former biological warfare facilities at Fort Detrick, Md., to house research activities on the causes, treatment and prevention of cancer.
December 23, 1971 – President Nixon signed the National Cancer Act of 1971.
July 27, 1972 – A Bureau-level organization was established for the National Cancer Institute, giving the institute and its components organizational status commensurate with the responsibilities bestowed on it by the National Cancer Act of 1971. Under the reorganization, NCI was composed of the Office of the Director and four divisions: Cancer Biology and Diagnosis; Cancer Cause and Prevention; Cancer Treatment; and Cancer Grants (renamed successively the Division of Cancer Research, Resources and Centers, and later the Division of Extramural Activities).
June 20, 1973 – NCI director Dr. Frank J. Rauscher, Jr., announced that eight institutions were recognized as Comprehensive Cancer Centers to bring results of research as rapidly as possible to a maximum number of people. Additional centers were announced on November 2, 1973; June 13, 1974; October 18, 1974; April 8, 1976; December 30, 1976; July 27, 1978; and March 2, 1979, increasing the number of Comprehensive Cancer Centers to 20. (In July 2000 there are 37.)
September 5, 1973 – The President transmitted to Congress the first annual report of the director of the National Cancer Program, a 5-year strategic plan for the program, and the report of the National Cancer Advisory Board. Preparation and transmittal of the documents were mandated by the National Cancer Act of 1971.
September 10, 1974 – The Division of Cancer Control and Rehabilitation was established to plan, direct, and coordinate an integrated program of cancer control and rehabilitation activities with the goal of identifying, testing, evaluating, demonstrating, communicating, and promoting the widespread use of available and new methods for reducing cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality.
September 12, 1974 – NCI made its first cancer control awards to state health departments for a 3-year program to screen low-income women for cancer of the uterine cervix. At its peak in 1978, the program had grown to a total of 32 states and territories.
December 17, 1974 – NCI and the National Library of Medicine established CANCERLINE, a jointly developed computerized service to provide scientists across the country with information on cancer research projects and published findings.
December 19, 1974 – The Clinical Cancer Education Program was announced to develop more innovative teaching methods in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation in schools of medicine, dentistry, osteopathy, and public health; affiliated teaching hospitals; and specialized cancer institutions.
1975 – The Cooperative Minority Biomedical Program, as approved by the National Cancer Advisory Board, represented a cofunding effort by NCI to implement and foster cancer research through the DRR Minority Biomedical Research Support Program and the NIGMS Minority Access to Research Careers Program.
August 5, 1977 – NCI celebrated its 40th anniversary with a ceremony on the NIH campus. Senator Warren G. Magnuson of Washington who, as a member of the House of Representatives, introduced a bill to establish the NCI in 1937, sent a message stating: “Those one and a half million Americans who are alive today – cured of cancer – are ample justification for all that we’ve appropriated over the last 40 years.”
1979 – The first human RNA virus (HTLV-I) was discovered by NCI’s Dr. Robert C. Gallo.
July 18, 1979 – NCI and the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., signed an agreement to cooperate in a cancer treatment research program.
July 10, 1980 – HHS Secretary Patricia Roberts Harris approved institute-wide reorganization. A newly created Division of Resources, Centers, and Community Activities incorporated functions of the former Division of Cancer Control and Rehabilitation and programs for education, training, construction, cancer centers, and organ site research of the former Division of Cancer Research, Resources, and Centers (DCRRC). Other activities of the DCRRC were incorporated into the new Division of Extramural Activities.
April 27, 1981 – A new Biological Response Modifiers Program was established in the Division of Cancer Treatment to investigate, develop and bring to clinical trials potential therapeutic agents that may alter biological responses that are important in the biology of cancer growth and metastasis.
September 1982 – PDQ, a computerized database on cancer treatment information, became available nationwide via the National Library of Medicine’s MEDLARS system.
December 16, 1982 – NCI purchased what is now the R. A. Bloch International Cancer Information Center through generous donations to the NCI Gift Fund. This building houses the Journal of the National Cancer Institute; the Scientific Information Branch, which publishes Cancer Treatment Reports and Cancer Treatment Symposia; the International Cancer Research Data Bank; and PDQ.
July 16, 1983 – NCI launched the Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP) to establish a cancer control effort that combines the expertise of community oncologists with NCI clinical research programs. The CCOP initiative is designed to bring the advantages of clinical research to cancer patients in their own communities.
September 1983 – The Office of International Affairs was reorganized to add a Scientific Information Branch and a Computer Communications Branch. The Scientific Information Branch is composed of a literature research section, cancer treatment reports section, Journal of the National Cancer Institute section, and the international cancer research data bank section.
Community Clinical Oncology Program, an NCI resource that links community-based physicians with cooperative groups and cancer centers for participation in institute-approved clinical trials, was created.
December 5, 1983 – The name of the Division of Cancer Cause and Prevention was changed to the Division of Cancer Etiology (DCE).
The Division of Resources, Centers and Community Activities was renamed the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (DCPC) to emphasize the division’s roles in cancer prevention and control research.
1984 – A policy statement regarding the relationship of the NCI, the pharmaceutical industry, and NCI-supported cooperative groups was developed. The statement articulates the need for collaboration between the NCI and the pharmaceutical industry in pursuing the joint development of anticancer drugs of mutual interest. It also sets forth guidelines for the handling of issues such as the joint sponsorship of trials, the sharing of information between sponsors, maintaining the confidentiality of certain classes of data, the funding of cooperative groups by drug companies, the review of protocols and the publication of results.
The Comprehensive Minority Biomedical Program, DEA, was established to widen the focus of the minority effort along lines of the programmatic thrusts of the institute, thereby giving it trans-NCI responsibilities.
The Cancer Control Science program was established in DCPC to develop programs in health promotion research and to stimulate widespread application of existing cancer control knowledge. Branches include health promotion sciences, cancer control applications and cancer training.
March 6, 1984 – DHHS Secretary Margaret M. Heckler launched a new cancer prevention awareness program by NCI to inform the public about cancer risks and steps individuals can take to reduce risk.
April 1984 – An NCI scientist, Dr. Robert C. Gallo, reported the isolation of a new group of viruses found in the helper T-cells of patients with AIDS or pre-AIDS symptoms, as well as from healthy individuals at high risk for developing AIDS. These viruses were ultimately named human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. This discovery made the control of blood-product-transmitted AIDS feasible by enabling the development of a simple test for the detection of AIDS-infected blood by blood banks and diagnostic laboratories.
August 1985 – The Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program, one of the first formal postdoctoral research training programs in cancer prevention, began.
November 10, 1986 – The International Cancer Information Center was established in the Office of International Affairs, NCI Office of the Director.
May 1987 – As part of NIH’s centennial celebration year, NCI commemorated its 50th anniversary.
October 15, 1987 – The DCPC established the Laboratory for Nutrition and Cancer Research with the basic nutrition science section and the clinical/metabolic human studies section.
October 24, 1987 – The Office of Technology Development was established in the NCI Office of the Director as the institute’s focal point for the implementation of pertinent legislation, rules and regulations, and the administration of activities relating to collaborative agreements, inventions, patents, royalties, and associated matters.
October 26, 1987 – The DCT abolished the following branches, sections, and laboratory: the chromosome structure and function section in the Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology; the Drug Evaluation Branch and its sections; the drug synthesis section and the acquisition section in the Drug Synthesis and Chemistry Branch; the fermentation section and the plant and animal products section in the Natural Products Branch; the chemical resources section, the analytical and product development section and the clinical products section in the Pharmaceutical Resources Branch; the Extramural Research and Resources Branch; and the Animal Genetics and Production Branch; the sections of the Information Technology Branch; the Laboratory of Experimental Therapeutics and Metabolism and its sections; the sections of the Laboratory of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
The DCT changed the name of the Laboratory of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics to the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology. The division also established the Laboratory of Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology Branch, Biological Testing Branch, and Grants and Contracts Operations Branch.
1988 – In DCT’s Clinical Oncology Program, the Clinical Pharmacology Branch merged with the Medicine Branch.
The International Cancer Information Center established a separate office in the NCI Office of the Director.
January 1988 – NCI journals Cancer Treatment Reports and Journal of the National Cancer Institute were consolidated into a biweekly Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
September 30, 1988 – The first Consortium Cancer Center was established, comprised of three historically black medical schools. Component universities supported by this core grant – Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, Meharry Medical College in Nashville, and Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta – focus their efforts on cancer prevention, control, epidemiology, and clinical trials.
April 1989 – The NCI-initiated mechanism of supplementing research grants to encourage recruitment of minority scientists and science students into extramural research laboratories is published as an NIH-wide extramural program announcement. This initiative will be expanded to cover science students and scientists who are women or persons with disabilities.
May 22, 1989 – NCI scientist Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg conducted the first human gene transfer trial using human tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes to which a foreign gene has been added.
September 14, 1990 – Scientists from NCI and NHLBI conducted the first trial in which a copy of a faulty gene was inserted into white blood cells to reverse the immune deficiency it causes. This was the first human gene therapy trial and adenosine deaminase deficiency was treated.
December 19, 1990 – The institute began its year-long celebration of the 20th anniversary of the National Cancer Act by inaugurating a series of articles in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The series described the growth in knowledge that has occurred in cancer research since 1971.
January 29, 1991 – The first human gene therapy to treat cancer was started. Patients with melanoma were treated with tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes to which a gene for tumor necrosis factor has been added.
September 24, 1991 – Congress held a special hearing to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the National Cancer Act. Dr. Samuel A. Broder, NCI director, thanked Congress for its "consistent vision, leadership, and commitment to the goal of alleviating the death and suffering caused by cancer in this country."
October 1991 – NCI began its Five-a-Day program, in partnership with the nonprofit group Produce for Better Health, to encourage Americans to eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day.
December 18, 1992 – Taxol (paclitaxel), an anticancer drug extracted from the bark of the Pacific yew, received approval by the FDA for the treatment of ovarian cancer that has failed other therapy. NCI spearheaded the development of the drug through collaboration with the USDA's Forest Service, the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, made possible by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986.
November 1993 – The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian trial, designed to determine whether certain screening tests will reduce the number of deaths from these cancers, began recruiting 148,000 men and women, ages 55-74.
February 1995 – The results of the Community Intervention Trial for Smoking Cessation were completed and published.
1995/1996 – NCI leadership initiated a major reorganization, based on recommendations of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the National Cancer Advisory Board and NCI streamlining work groups and quality improvement teams. Two extramural divisions were created – the Division of Cancer Treatment, Diagnosis and Centers and the Division of Cancer Biology. Two intramural divisions were also created – the Division of Basic Sciences and the Division of Clinical Sciences – and one combined intramural/extramural division – the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics. The Divisions of Cancer Prevention and Control and Extramural Activities remain a part of the NCI structure, but in the extramural program.
November 1996 – Cancer mortality rates decline nearly 3 percent between 1991 and 1995, the first sustained decline since national record keeping was instituted in the 1930's.
August 1, 1997 – NCI, in partnership with government, academic, and industrial laboratories, launches the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project with two overall goals: to enhance the discovery of the acquired and inherited molecular changes in cancer and to evaluate the clinical potential of these discoveries. The project includes a website allowing scientists to rapidly access data generated through the project and apply it to their studies.
October 1997 – NCI reorganization continues,
with the creation of the Division of Cancer Prevention and the Division
of Cancer Control and Population Sciences from the former Division of
Cancer Prevention and Control and the extramural component of the Division
of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics.
March 1998 – Cancer incidence rates show first sustained decline since NCI began keeping records in 1973 – the rates dropped 0.7 percent per year from 1990 to 1995. Cancer mortality rates continue to decline.
April 6, 1998 – Results of the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial, testing the effectiveness of tamoxifen to prevent the disease, are announced 14 months earlier than expected: women taking tamoxifen had 45 percent fewer breast cancer diagnoses than women on the placebo, proving that breast cancer can be prevented. Rare but serious side effects are shown to occur in some postmenopausal women on tamoxifen – endometrial cancer and blood clots. A study to compare tamoxifen to another, potentially less toxic drug is planned for fall 1998.
September 25, 1998 – The Food and Drug Administration approved the monoclonal antibody Herceptin® (Trastuzumab) for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer in patients with tumors that produce excess amounts of a protein called HER-2. (Approximately 30 percent of breast cancer tumors produce excess amounts of HER-2.)
May 25, 1999 – The Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene, or STAR, one of the largest breast cancer prevention studies ever, began recruiting volunteers at more than 400 centers across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada. The trial will include 22,000 postmenopausal women at increased risk of breast cancer to determine whether the osteoporosis prevention drug raloxifene (Evista) is as effective in reducing the chance of developing breast cancer as tamoxifen (Nolvadex) has proven to be.
October 6, 1999 – NCI awarded nearly $8 million in grants toward the creation of the Early Detection Research Network, a network to discover and develop new biological tests for the early detection of cancer and of biomarkers for increased cancer risk. The awards created 18 Biomarker Developmental Laboratories to identify, characterize, and refine techniques for finding molecular, genetic, and biologic early warning signals of cancer.
December 8, 1999 – The National Cancer Institute published the new Atlas of Cancer Mortality, 1950-94, showing the geographic patterns of cancer death rates in over 3,000 counties across the country over more than four decades. This atlas updated the first atlas, published in 1975. The 254 color-coded maps in the atlas made it easy for researchers and state health departments to identify places where high or low rates occur. For the first time, maps were presented for both white and black populations. An interactive version of the data was made available on the Internet for the first time, as well.
April 6, 2000 – A $60 million program is announced to address the unequal burden of cancer within certain special populations in the United States over the next 5 years. The Special Populations Networks for Cancer Awareness Research and Training are intended to build relationships between large research institutions and community-based programs. Eighteen grants at 17 institutions will create or implement cancer control, prevention, research, and training programs in minority and underserved populations. The cooperative relationships established by the Networks will be used to foster cancer awareness activities, support minority enrollment in clinical trials, and encourage and promote the development of minority junior biomedical researchers.
June 7, 2000 – President Clinton issued an executive memorandum directing the Medicare program to reimburse providers for the cost of routine patient care in clinical trials. The memorandum also provides for additional actions to promote the participation of Medicare beneficiaries in clinical studies.
January 12, 2001 NCI announced the creation of the Center for Cancer Research, merging two intramural divisions at NCI the Division of Basic Sciences and the Division of Clinical Sciences, to provide greater opportunities to translate fundamental research into pioneering clinical research and molecular medicine.
February 21, 2001 NCI announced the Consumer Advocates in Research and Related Activities (CARRA) program a landmark initiative convening a large network of dedicated advocates who bring the viewpoint of those affected by cancer to NCI. NCI staff, including researchers and scientists, will now be able to rely on the CARRA network of more than 200 advocates to give insight and feedback from the consumer's perspective to their developing programs.
May 10, 2001 The Food and Drug Administration announced its approval of the drug Gleevec, also known as STI571, as an oral treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). This marked the approval of the first molecularly targeted drug that directly turns off the signal of a protein known to cause a cancer. Clinical trials are continuing to expand as clinical investigators test Gleevec in a variety of cancers that share common molecular abnormalities.
July 24, 2001 The largest-ever prostate cancer prevention study was launched by the NCI and a network of researchers known as the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG). The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, or SELECT, will determine if these two dietary supplements can protect against prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer, after skin cancer, in men. The study will include a total of 32,400 men.
February 4, 1927 – Senator M. M. Neely, West Virginia, introduced S. 5589, “To authorize a reward for the discovery of a successful cure for cancer, and to create a commission to inquire into and ascertain the success of such cure.” The reward was to be $5 million.
March 7, 1928 – Senator M. M. Neely introduced S. 3554, “To authorize the National Academy of Sciences to investigate the means and methods for affording Federal aid in discovering a cure for cancer and for other purposes.”
April 23, 1929 – Senator W. J. Harris, Georgia, introduced S. 466, “To authorize the Public Health Service and the National Academy of Sciences jointly to investigate the means and methods for affording Federal aid in discovering a cure for cancer and for other purposes.”
May 29, 1929 – Senator W. J. Harris introduced S. 4531, authorizing a survey in connection with the control of cancer and providing “That the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service is authorized and directed to make a general survey in connection with the control of cancer and submit a report thereon to the Congress as soon as practicable, together with his recommendations for necessary Federal legislation.”
April 2, 1937 – Senator Homer T. Bone of Washington introduced S. 2067, “Authorizing the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service to control and prevent the spread of the disease of cancer.” It authorized an annual appropriation of $1 million.
April 12, 1937 – Congressman Warren G. Magnuson of Washington introduced H.R. 6100, a bill identical to S. 2067.
April 29, 1937 – Congressman Maury Maverick of Texas introduced H.R. 6767, “To promote research in the cause, prevention, and methods of diagnosis and treatment of cancer, to provide better facilities for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, to establish a National Cancer Center in the Public Health Service, and for other purposes.” It authorized an appropriation of $2,400,000 for the first year and $1 million annually thereafter. The legal office of PHS had helped draft the bill on the basis of suggestions made by Dr. Dudley Jackson of San Antonio, Tex.
July 8, 1937 – A joint hearing of the Senate and House committees was conducted before a subcommittee on cancer research and a revised bill was written.
July 23, 1937 – The National Cancer Institute Act was passed by Congress.
August 5, 1937 – The National Cancer Institute Act, P.L. 244, 75th Congress, was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “To provide for, foster, and aid in coordinating research relating to cancer; to establish the National Cancer Institute; and for other purposes.” An appropriation of $700,000 for each fiscal year was authorized.
March 28, 1938 – House Joint Resolution 468, 75th Congress, was passed, “To dedicate the month of April in each year to a voluntary national program for the control of cancer.”
July 1, 1944 – The Public Health Service Act, P.L. 410, 78th Congress, provided that “The National Cancer Institute shall be a division in the National Institute of Health.” The act also revised and consolidated many revisions into a single law. The limit of $700,000 annual appropriation was removed.
August 15, 1950 – Public Law 692, 81st Congress, increased the term of office of National Advisory Cancer Council members from 3 to 4 years and the size of the Council from 6 to 12 members, exclusive of the ex officio members.
December 23, 1971 – President Nixon signed P.L. 92-218-the National Cancer Act of 1971 – providing increased authorities and responsibilities for the NCI director; initiating a National Cancer Program; establishing a 3-member President’s Cancer Panel and a 23-member National Cancer Advisory Board, the latter replacing the National Advisory Cancer Council; authorizing the establishment of 15 new research, training, and demonstration cancer centers; establishing cancer control programs as necessary for cooperation with state and other health agencies in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer; and providing for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of all data useful in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, including the establishment of an international cancer data research bank.
July 23, 1974 – The National Cancer Act Amendments of 1974 (P.L. 93-352) were signed by the President to improve the National Cancer Program and to authorize appropriations for the next three fiscal years. P.L. 93-352 also included provisions for disseminating information on nutrition as related to the therapy or causation of cancer, for trials of cytology test programs for the diagnosis of uterine cancer, and for peer review of grant applications and contract projects. It also established a President’s Biomedical Research Panel.
August 1, 1977 – The NCI mandate was extended for 1 year when the President signed the Health Planning and Health Services Research and Statistics Extension Act (P.L. 95-83).
November 9, 1978 – The President signed the Community Mental Health Centers Act (P.L. 95-622) amending the National Cancer Act to emphasize education and demonstration programs in cancer treatment and prevention, and stipulating that NCI devote more resources to prevention, focusing particularly on environmental, dietary and occupational cancer causes.
December 17, 1980 – The Health Programs Extension Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-538) was signed into law, extending NCI authorization for 3 years.
November 20, 1985 – The Health Research Extension Act of 1985 (P.L. 99-158) was signed into law. It affirmed the special authorities of NCI and emphasized the importance of information dissemination to the public.
November 4, 1988 – The Health Research Extension Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-607) was signed into law. The 2-year extension reaffirmed the special authorities of NCI and added information dissemination mandates, as well as a requirement to assess the incorporation of cancer treatments into clinical practice and the extent to which cancer patients receive such treatments. A representative from the Department of Energy was added to the National Cancer Advisory Board as an ex officio member.
June 10, 1993 – The NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, P.L. 103-43, was signed. The act encouraged NCI to expand and intensify its efforts in breast cancer and other women’s cancers and authorized increased appropriations. Similar language is included for prostate cancer. The institute is also directed to collaborate with NIEHS, to undertake a case control study to assess biological markers of environmental and other potential risk factors contributing to the incidence of breast cancer in specific counties in the Northeast. In FY 1994 NCI is directed to allocate 7 percent of its appropriation to cancer control, in FY 1995, 9 percent, and in FY 1996, 10 percent.
December 3, 2000 NCI established the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. The Center absorbed the former Office of Special Populations Research. The NCI Strategic Plan to Reduce Health Disparities is part of a major national commitment to identify and address the underlying causes of disease and disability in racial and ethnic communities. Because these communities carry an unequal burden of cancer-related health disparities, NCI is working to enhance its research, education, and training programs that focus on populations in need.
February 22, 2001 NCI announced the availability of a new resource for the cancer research community, the NCI-MMHCC (Mouse Models of Human Cancers Consortium) Mouse Repository, a mouse cancer models repository and distribution facility. The availability of mouse cancer models to the research community is key to discoveries that will lead to new approaches for cancer detection, diagnosis, therapy, and prevention.
May 2001 NCI launched the Cancer Mortality Maps & Graphs web site with interactive maps, graphs (which are accessible to the blind and visually impaired), text, tables and figures showing geographic patterns and time trends of cancer death rates for the time period 1950-1994 for more than 40 cancers.
May 1, 2001 In one of the largest studies on the long-term health effects of silicone breast implants, researchers from the NCI found that women with implants were not at increased risk for most causes of death compared to the control group, including most cancers.
May 8, 2001 The Ireland-Northern Ireland-NCI Cancer Consortium has announced publication of the first report on cancer statistics for the island of Ireland, a collaborative effort that marks another milestone for the 2-year-old consortium. The report represents the first-time coordination of cancer statistics for the island's entire population from the cancer registries of Ireland and Northern Ireland. NCI helped initiate and has been actively involved in the consortium, established in 1999 to enhance cancer research and quality of care on the island of Ireland. In addition to the all-Ireland statistics report, the consortium has instituted scholar exchange and training programs and collaborative projects on information technology and clinical trials.
May 8, 2001 In recognition of her personal and professional efforts to raise awareness of colorectal cancer and to teach Americans about the disease, Katie Couric was named the 2001 recipient of the National Cancer Institute's Eleanor Nealon Extraordinary Communicators Award. The award is given in conjunction with the Eleanor Nealon Extraordinary Communicators Lecture Series, a tribute to outstanding communicators.
May 9, 2001 NCI launched a large, randomized clinical trial to test the effects of shark cartilage in combination with chemotherapy and radiotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer that cannot be removed by surgery.
June 5, 2001 The Annual Report showing overall decline in U.S. cancer incidence and death rates was released by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including the National Center for Health Statistics; the American Cancer Society; and the National Cancer Institute. The report includes new data for the period between 1992 to 1998. This report provides an update on the trends in cancer incidence (new cases reported) and death rates in the United States. A feature section of the report focuses on a dozen cancers whose overall rates are increasing.
July 16-18, 2001 The second Cancer Control Academy (CCA) brought cancer researchers, health experts, and their community partners from diverse populations throughout the Nation together to share experiences and teach the principles and practice of cancer control in a way that directly benefits the community. The academy responded to lessons learned through years of NCI-sponsored community-based initiatives and focused primarily on the immediate needs of the Special Populations Networks for Cancer Awareness and Training.
July 20, 2001 The Food and Drug Administration and the NCI announced a new joint research and clinical program that holds great promise for developing better and more targeted treatments for cancer. The new program, called the Clinical Proteomics Program, melds the study of all proteins in living cells (or proteomics) to the clinical care of patients, the first time this new research technology has been applied directly to patient care.
September 4, 2001 NCI and the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) launched the first large, multicenter study to compare digital mammography to standard mammography for the detection of breast cancer. The Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (DMIST), involving 49,500 women in the United States and Canada, will compare digital mammography to standard film mammography to determine how this new technique compares to the traditional method of screening for breast cancer. Digital mammography uses computers and specially designed detectors to produce a digital image of the breast that can be displayed on high-resolution monitors.
Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., the 12th Director of the National Cancer Institute in its 64 year history, is a nationally recognized urologic surgeon who formerly directed the Genitourinary Cancer Center and the Prostate Cancer Research Program at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. He also served as special assistant for external affairs to M. D. Anderson's president and held the Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Clinical Research Distinguished Chair in Urologic Oncology.
A native of Philadelphia, Dr. von Eschenbach received his medical degree from Georgetown University Medical School in 1967. He completed residencies in general surgery and urology at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, then was an instructor in urology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He served as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps.
Dr. von Eschenbach went to M. D. Anderson Cancer Center for a fellowship in urologic oncology in 1976 and was invited to join the faculty the following year. From 1983 to 1996, he was Chairman of the Department of Urology and, since 1985, has also been a Consulting Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology.
In 1996, Dr. von Eschenbach was named the founding director of M.D. Anderson's Prostate Cancer Research Program, which has 60 scientists and clinicians collaborating on integrated translational research in the biology, treatment, epidemiology and prevention of the disease. From 1997 to 1999, he also served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and then as Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, leading a faculty of almost 1,000 cancer researchers and clinicians.
He was a founding member of the National Dialogue on Cancer and prior to his accepting the position as NCI Director, he was President-elect of the American Cancer Society. Dr. von Eschenbach has contributed more than 200 articles and books and chapters to the scientific literature.
With guidance and oversight from program experts in NCI's Divisions of Cancer Biology, Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, Cancer Prevention, and Cancer Control and Population Sciences, cancer research is conducted with NCI funding in nearly every state in the United States and more than 20 foreign countries. Extramural Divisions also support cancer research training, education, and career development; provide leadership for setting national priorities in cancer research; allocate resources; and integrate their projects with other Divisions and Institutes within NCI and with Federal and state agencies, professional agencies, cancer centers, and other organizations.
Division of Cancer Biology
The Division of Cancer Biology (DCB) manages a program of basic and applied research on cancer cell biology, including research on carcinogenesis and cancer immunology. Seven Branches within DCB support a variety of broad-based investigator-initiated research grants from academic institutions, research institutes, and small businesses.
The Biological Carcinogenesis Branch (BCB) focuses on determining the role of microbiological agents, especially viruses, as factors or cofactors in the etiology of human and animal cancer. This branch supports studies on DNA viruses; RNA viruses; AIDS and AIDS-associated viruses; animal models of cancer; cancer vaccines; and bacterial agents associated with human cancer. BCB also supports development of technologies to support biological carcinogenesis research.
Through the Cancer Cell Biology Branch (CCBB), researchers use lower eukaryote and animal models, and animal and human tumor cells and tissues to analyze the mechanisms responsible for the growth and progression of cancer. CCBB supports research on the genetic basis of cancer; the loss of regulatory mechanisms of gene expression and protein synthesis; the interactions between cancer cells and their environment; molecular components of the metastatic process; and the biology of tumor angiogenesis.
The Structural Biology and Molecular Applications Branch focuses on structural and molecular approaches to understanding processes involved in carcinogenesis and tumorigenesis. Research interests include structural biology; genomics; proteomics; molecular and cellular imaging; enzymology; bio-related and combinatorial chemistry; bioinformatics; and modeling and theoretical approaches to cellular and molecular cancer biology. The branch also supports the development and application of technologies to advance cancer biology.
The Cancer Immunology and Hematology Branch supports research in basic and tumor immunology and the biology of malignancies of the immune system (leukemias and lymphomas). Areas of major interest include the immune response to tumors; receptor biology/signal transduction; cytokines; antibodies and antibody genes; T-cell biology; the biology of antigen-presenting cells and nonspecific effectors of the immune system such as natural killer cells; granulocytes and macrophages; hematopoietic differentiation; oncogenes; the biology of hematopoietic tumors (including AIDS lymphomas); and immunologic aspects of bone-marrow transplantation.
Through the Chemical and Physical Carcinogenesis Branch (CPCB) researchers conduct basic and applied research concerned with the occurrence of cancer caused or promoted by chemical or physical agents, acting separately or together, or in combination with biological agents. The CPCB is specifically interested in promoting research in the areas of molecular carcinogenesis, carcinogenesis mechanisms, nutritional carcinogenesis, experimental tobacco carcinogenesis, and research resources.
The DNA and Chromosome Aberrations Branch supports research on cancer-related mechanisms of DNA damage/repair, and related molecular, cytogenetic, and chromosomal effects during induction and progression to malignancy. Specific interests include DNA damage detection, repair, and response mechanisms, as well as the molecular basis for spontaneous and heritable defects in DNA repair and chromosome stability.
The Tumor Biology and Metastasis Branch (TBMB) seeks to understand the interactions of cancer cells with the host microenvironment in order to delineate the molecular mechanisms of tumor growth, angiogenesis, invasion, progression and metastasis. TBMB supported researchers are studying cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions, and the role played by cell adhesion molecules; cytoskeleton and the nuclear matrix; matrix-degrading enzymes; the pathology and biology of solid tumors and tumor-bearing animals; and the role of steroid hormones and their receptors during tumor growth and progression.
Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences
The Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) strives to understand the causes and distribution of cancer in populations; support the development and implementation of effective interventions; and monitor and explain cancer trends. DCCPS both generates new knowledge and seeks to ensure that the products of cancer control research are effectively applied in all segments of the population.
The Office of Cancer Survivorship (OCS) supports research that explores the long and short term physical and psychological effects of cancer and its treatment. The OCS provide a focus within the NIH for the support of research and education aimed at professionals who deal with cancer patients and survivors. In consultation with the medical and consumer communities, the OCS articulates and coordinates a research strategy that will result in improvement in the quality of life, and a reduction in morbidity and mortality in cancer survivors.
The Applied Research Program (ARP) evaluates patterns and trends in cancer associated health behaviors and practices, genetic susceptibilities, outcomes, and services. The ARP monitors and evaluates cancer control activities in general and specific populations in the United States and determines the influence of these factors on patterns and trends in cancer incidence, morbidity, mortality, and survival. The ARP is comprised of three branches: Health Services and Economics, Outcomes Research, and Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods.
The Behavioral Research Program (BRP) supports investigations ranging from basic behavioral research to research on the development and dissemination of interventions in areas such as tobacco use, dietary behavior, sun protection, decision making, and counseling about testing for cancer susceptibility and participation in cancer screening. The BRP is comprised of the Applied Cancer Screening Research Branch, Basic Biobehavioral Research Branch, Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch, Health Promotion Research Branch, and Tobacco Control Research Branch.
The Epidemiology and Genetics Research Program supports population-based research to increase our understanding of the etiology and prevention of cancer. This program includes the Analytic Epidemiology Research Branch and the Clinical and Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch.
The Surveillance Research Program (SRP) supports cancer surveillance and health services research to answer key questions about cancer incidence, mortality, and cancer-related health behaviors in diverse regions and populations of the U.S. The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, a major component of the SRP, collects cancer data on a routine basis from designated population-based cancer registries in various areas of the country. The SRP includes the Cancer Statistics Branch and the Statistical Research and Applications Branch.
Division of Cancer Prevention
The Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP) is the primary unit of the National Cancer Institute devoted to cancer prevention research. DCP works through seven Research Groups that focus on specific scientific subject areas of cancer research and four organ specific Research Groups.
The Basic Prevention Science Research Group integrates fundamental research from intramural and extramural divisions to study molecular prevention of cancer, including molecular genetics and the molecular pathogenesis of precancer, and seek to apply of these approaches to clinical trials in cancer prevention.
The Biometery Research Group plans and conducts independent and cooperative research studies on cancer epidemiology, prevention, screening, and diagnosis using methods of mathematical and analytic statistics. This Group provides consultation and advice on biostatistical methodology, study design, and biometry to investigators inside and outside of NCI.
The Cancer Biomarkers Research Group is the principal resource in the NCI for biomarker information pertaining to cancer detection and risk assessment. This group of basic and clinical scientists support research for the development and validation of promising early cancer biomarkers for risk prediction and early detection of cancer, including development of databases and informatics systems to track the utility of new biomarkers and new or refined technologies for studying the molecular circuitry of preneoplastic cells.
The Chemopreventive Agent Development Research Group (CADRC) focuses on research for preclinical and early phase I chemoprevention agents utilizing physiological endpoints in healthy volunteers. Research includes all classes of agents and a wide range of methodologies and technologies. CADRG manages the Rapid Access to Preventive Intervention Development program which helps bridge the gap between discovery and clinical testing; supports clinical trial development, agent acquisition, IND directed toxicology and related research; and provides technical support and research resources to extra- and intramural investigators and industry for chemopreventive agent development.
The Community Oncology and Prevention Trials Research Group develops programs to improve clinical oncology in community settings. This Group promotes interaction between community oncologists and clinical cooperative groups; stimulates psychosocial and physical rehabilitation research; develops and conducts research on the management of cancer pain and on supportive care for patients and families; studies the impact of cancer control programs on the community; and conducts preliminary Phase II cancer control studies of education, attitudes, and behavior of health professionals to serve as the basis for subsequent cancer control studies.
The Early Detection Research Group (EDRG) develops scientific information and concepts to aid in the dissemination of knowledge of early detection techniques, practices, and strategies to reduce mortality and morbidity from cancer. The EDRG manages and supports clinical trials for early detection and analyzes research results on screening; fosters technology development and statistical modeling of new technologies; and encourages the publication of scientific findings and adoption of early detection practices.
The Nutritional Science Research Group generates and tests hypotheses relating diet to the causation and prevention of cancer; develops quantitative methods to monitor nutritional intake in large populations; evaluates dietary data in populations in chemoprevention trials; and oversees diet, nutrition, and cancer activities, coordinating these with related activities in other research and health agencies.
The four organ-specific research groups in DCP are the Breast and Gynecologic Cancer Research Group, the Gastrointestinal and Other Cancers Research Group, the Lung and Upper Aerodigestive Cancer Research Group, and the Prostate and Urologic Cancer Research Group. Each group focuses on cancer sites within their defined organ group, overseeing and supporting research in chemoprevention, nutrition, and other prevention strategies that include nutritional pharmacologic, biologic, and genetic approaches; vaccine development or immunologic intervention; cancer screening and early detection. Each group supports clinical trials that lead to new technologies for identifying and modifying premalignant lesions and those that develop agents based on measures of efficacy such as modulation of surrogate endpoint biomarkers or cancer incidence reduction.
Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis
Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis (DCTD), through its five cancer research programs, improves the lives of the American public by discovering better ways to detect, assess, cure and control cancer.
The Cancer Diagnosis Program (CDP) stimulates and supports efforts to improve the characterization of tumor cells; assures access to valuable clinical specimens for research; develops new technologies; and facilitates the translation of new technology to clinical settings. The Resources Development Branch supports human tissue specimen resources and provides information on legal and ethical, and policy issues as they apply to human specimen resources. The Diagnostics Research Branch supports research into new tools for cancer diagnosis from the identification of potentially useful tumor cell characteristics to moving promising approaches into clinical practice. The Technology Development Branch supports the development and early-phase application of novel technologies and tools that will improve clinical management of cancer patients.
The Biomedical Imaging Program promotes and supports basic, translational, and clinical research in the imaging sciences and technology, and applies the discoveries to solving national healthcare needs such as cancer. This program supports "In vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Centers" that facilitate interaction among scientists from a variety of fields to conduct multidisciplinary research on cellular and molecular imaging; facilitates clinical trials in imaging; and develops imaging research resources including drugs and enhancers.
The Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP) supports all aspects of clinical trials including extramural clinical research programs, internal resources, treatment methods and effectiveness, and compilation and exchange of data for development and evaluation of anticancer agents. CTEP establishes the clinical development plans for investigational agents; prepares and submits INDs for these agents; serves as the liaison to the FDA; manages, tracks, and reviews clinical protocols; monitors, plans and maintains regulatory compliance of DCTD-sponsored clinical trials; receives, manages, and distributes the investigational agents from collaborators for use in clinical trials; and develops and manages the collaborative clinical trials groups. CTEP oversees six clinical and pharmaceutical branches, two offices, and a grants program.
The Developmental Therapeutics Program (DTP) is responsible for extramural research programs directed towards preclinical development of therapeutic modalities for cancer and HIV disease. DTP studies novel agents directed at molecular targets important to cancer pathogenisis and progression; stimulates interdisciplinary collaboration between academia, industry, and intramural NCI; provides resources for discovery (compounds, informatics, cell lines, screening) and development (formulation, in vivo testing, pharmacology, toxicology) to academic, corporate and nonprofit investigators.
The Radiation Research Program focuses on preclinical and clinical radiation research including research to improve radiation therapy; modify radiation response with substances that increase sensitivity to radiation and those that protect against radiation; combine radiotherapy with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and surgery; and examine the effects of radiation on normal tissue.
At the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, some 400 NCI principal investigators in NCI's Center for Cancer Research and the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics focus on the rapid translation of basic laboratory research to clinical testing and long-term epidemiologic and genetics studies respectively. The intramural program also provides training opportunities for young investigators, and provides cancer education, patient care, and other resources to the community. Recent changes in the structure of the intramural program promise to further enhance their role in the Nation's cancer research effort.
Center for Cancer Research
The Center for Cancer Research (CCR) was established in 2001 to bring together previously separate basic and clinical science activities and allow translational research the best opportunity to flourish by creating a highly interactive, interdisciplinary environment that will maximize the use of researcher expertise and technology to perform cutting edge basic, translational, and clinical investigations and facilitate communication, interaction, and quick response to promising research findings.
The infrastructure and interdisciplinary environment of the CCR make it especially ideal for translational research by providing a defined process for and support to researchers studying promising targeted treatments. "Faculties" bring together scientists who work in different disciplines but on similar cancer research problems across the Institute, both intramural and extramural. The faculties provide a venue for sharing information, informal peer review, and successful collaboration.
To further encourage interaction of scientists, both external and Center researchers can become adjunct appointees within CCR laboratories. These appointments allow researchers to work more closely with other laboratories than would have been possible in traditional collaborations. Adjunct investigators attend meetings and become involved in the day-to-day work of the laboratory.
Interdisciplinary training programs are also under development through the CCR to encourage young investigators to explore promising new areas of science, such as those found at the intersection of chemistry and biology, statistics and biology, or pathology and genetics.
As the largest organization of its kind, the approximately 3500 people, including 329 principal investigators, who work at the CCR are dedicated to conducting basic and clinical research on the discovery of the causes and mechanisms of cancer. CCR conducts research in AIDS vaccine development; HIV drug resistance; medical oncology; bone marrow transplantation and related immunology; molecular mechanisms of cellular transformation, tumorigenesis, and metastasis; basic and clinical cancer genetics; mouse genetics as a tool for understanding human cancer; novel therapeutic strategies for cancer and HIV; molecular targets drug discovery; and radiation biology and oncology. Initiatives that support NCI's Extraordinary Opportunities include Molecular Targets, Cancer Prevention Models, Breast Cancer Initiatives, Microarray Technology, Proteomics, Imaging, Molecular Pathology, Genomic Analysis, the Office of Mice Advice, and Animal Models.
Division of Epidemiolgy and Genetics
The Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) serves as a national resource for population-based studies in on environmental and genetic determinants of cancer. DCEG conducts Intramural and collaborative interdisciplinary studies of the distribution, causes, and natural history of cancer, and the means for its prevention. DCEG consists of two Programs, the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, and the Human Genetics Program.
The Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program (EBP) consist of six branches that conduct independent and collaborative epidemiologic and biostatistical investigations to identify the distribution, characteristics, and causes of cancer in human populations. The EBP investigates demographic variation in the occurrence of cancer by age, race, gender, geography, and over time (i.e., descriptive studies); cancer related to occupational and environmental exposures; drug-induced cancer (pharmacoepidemiology); cancer induced by ionizing and nonionizing radiation; the relationship of diet and nutrition to cancer risk; microbial origins of cancer (e.g., viruses, bacteria); metabolic and hormonal aspects of cancer risk; and genetic susceptibility to cancer-causing exposures. The EBP also develops biostatistical methods for population-based studies. The research conducted by the EPB provides a scientific basis for public health recommendations.
The Human Genetics Program (HGP) provides an expanded focus for interdisciplinary research into the genetic determinants of human cancer. Investigators in the Clinical Genetics Branch integrate clinical observations into an interdisciplinary approach involving clinical, genetic, epidemiologic, statistical and laboratory methods to define the role of susceptibility genes in cancer etiology; translate molecular genetics advances into evidence-based management strategies (including screening and chemoprevention) for persons at increased genetic risk of cancer; identify and characterize phenotypic manifestations of genetic and familial cancer syndromes; counsel individuals at high risk of cancer; investigate genetic polymorphisms as determinants of treatment-related second cancers; and pursue astute clinical observations of unusual cancer occurrences which might provide new clues to cancer etiology.
Investigators in the Genetic Epidemiology Branch (GEB) design and conduct interdisciplinary clinical, epidemiologic, genetic, and laboratory studies of persons, families, and populations at high risk of cancer. Investigators identify genes and exposures that cause predisposition to cancer, and explore the combined effects of predisposition and specific exposures. The GEB maintains a familial cancer registry and biospecimen repositories; provides counsel about cancer risks and screening options to families participating in studies; develops educational materials for family members, health care providers, and the general public; and develops analytic tools for exploring gene-environment interactions.
Includes special appropriations for virus-leukemia development program.
|This page was last reviewed on June 30, 2005 .|
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