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NCI logo   National Cancer Institute
Mission | Important Events | Legislative Chronology | Director | Programs


The mission of the National Cancer Institute is to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer. Under the leadership of Director Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., NCI is committed to achieve this goal by the year 2015 through a process of discovery, development, and delivery.

Within this framework, NCI researchers work to more fully integrate discovery activities through interdisciplinary collaborations; accelerate development of interventions and new technology through translational research; and ensure the delivery of these interventions for application in the clinic and public health programs as state-of-the-art care for all those in need.

As the leader of the National Cancer Program, NCI provides vision and leadership to the global cancer community. NCI conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation, and the continuing care of cancer patients. Critical to the success of its programs are collaborations and partnerships that further NCI's success in serving cancer patients and those who care for them.

NCI supports a broad range of research to expand scientific discovery at the molecular and cellular level, within a cell's microenvironment, and in relation to human and environmental factors that influence cancer development and progression. Each year, almost 5,000 principal investigators lead research projects that result in better ways to combat cancer. Intramural research serves as a hub for new development through cutting edge basic, clinical, and epidemiological research. Extramural program experts provide guidance and oversight for research conducted at universities, teaching hospitals, and other organizations. Proposals are selected for funding by peer review, a rigorous process by which scientific experts evaluate new proposals and recommend the most scientifically meritorious for funding. In addition to direct research funding, NCI offers the Nation's cancer scientists a variety of useful research tools and services: tissue samples, statistics on cancer incidence and mortality, bioinformatic tools for analyzing data, databases of genetic information, and resources through NCI-supported Cancer Centers, Centers of Research Excellence, and the Mouse Models of Human Cancer Consortium.

NCI also uses collaborative platforms and an interdisciplinary environment to promote translational research and intervention development. Discovery of a new tool that first helps to understand the underlying mechanism of cancer may eventually be used to help diagnose it, and then may be further still developed to help treat it. For example, recent advances in bioinformatics and the related explosion of technology for genomics and proteomics research are dramatically accelerating the rate for processing large amounts of information for cancer screening and diagnosis. The largest collaborative research activity is the Clinical Trials Program for testing interventions for preventing cancer, diagnostic tools, and cancer treatments and access as early as possible to all who can benefit. NCI supports over 1,300 clinical trials a year, assisting more than 200,000 patients.

NCI research impacts the delivery of improved cancer interventions to cancer patients and those who care for them. Timely communication of NCI scientific findings help people make better health choices and advise physicians about treatment options that are more targeted and less invasive, resulting in fewer adverse side effects. NCI researchers are also seeking the causes of disparities among underserved groups and gaps in quality cancer care, helping to translate research results into better health for groups at high risk for cancer, including cancer survivors and the aging population. In addition, NCI is fostering partnerships with other agencies and organizations to accelerate the pace for moving targeted drugs though the pipeline of discovery, development, and delivery.

Information about the National Cancer Institute's research and activities is available through its new public Web site,

Important Events in NCI History

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.

July 1, 1975 – The Cancer Information Service (CIS) was established on July 1, 1975, following the mandate of the National Cancer Act of 1971, which gave NCI new responsibilities for educating the public, patients, and health professionals.

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.

1996 - The NCI Office of Liaison Activities is established to ensure that advocates have an input concerning NCI research and related activities. The office supports NCI's research and programs by fostering strong communications and partnerships with the cancer advocacy community, professional societies, and Federal agencies.

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.

(Exact date to be provided), 1997 - The NCI Director's Consumer Liaison Group is established to advise and provide recommendations to the NCI Director from the perspective and viewpoint of cancer advocates on a wide variety of issues, programs, and research priorities and to maintain strong collaborations between NCI and the advocacy community.

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.

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.

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.

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.

September 4, 2001 – NCI and the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) launched the first large, multicenter study to compare digital mammoraphy to standard mammography for the detection of breast cancer.

September 10, 2001 – NCI launched 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, are 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.

February 7, 2002 – Scientists from NCI and FDA reported that patterns of proteins found in patients' serum may reflect the presence of ovarian cancer, even at early stages. Currently, more than 80 percent of ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed at a late clinical stage and have a 20 percent or less chance of survival at five years. This new diagnostic concept is potentially applicable to the diagnosis of other diseases.

May 19, 2002 – Researchers from NCI reported that the molecularly targeted drug bevacizumab slowed tumor growth in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer in adults.

June 19, 2002 – NCI scientists used microarray technology to determine the patterns of genes that are active in tumor cells from which they were able to predict whether patients with the most common form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in adults are likely to be cured by chemo-therapy. Trials designed to correlate clinical results with molecular data will allow researchers to identify drugs that are effective in subgroups of cancer patients, an approach that has already proven effective in finding new agents to treat breast cancer and leukemia.

July 16, 2002 – Postmenopausal women who used estrogen replacement therapy for 10 or more years were at significantly higher risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who never used hormone replacement therapy in an NCI-funded trial. The relative risk for 10 to 19 years of use was 80 percent higher risk than non-users, and increased to a 220 percent higher risk than non-users for women who took estrogen for 20 or more years.

September 18, 2002 – NCI launched the National Lung Screening Trial to compare two ways of testing for early lung cancer in current and former heavy smokers: spiral computed tomography and single-view chest x-ray. Both spiral CT scans and chest x-rays have been used in clinical practice to detect lung cancer in asymptomatic individuals, but scientific evidence is inconclusive as to whether screening for lung cancer with either method will reduce lung cancer mortality. NLST will examine the relative risks and benefits of both tests in 50,000 current and former smokers at 30 study sites throughout the United States.

September 19, 2002 – A new approach to cancer treatment that replaces a patient's immune system with cancer-fighting cells can lead to tumor shrinkage. NCI researchers demonstrated that immune cells, activated in the laboratory against patients' tumors and then administered to those patients, could attack cancer cells in the body. The experimental technique, known as adoptive transfer, has shown promising results in patients with metastatic melanoma who have not responded to standard treatment.

October 16, 2002 – Patterns of proteins found in patients' blood may help distinguish between prostate cancer and benign conditions, according to scientists from NCI and FDA. The technique, which relies on a simple test using a drop of blood, may be useful in deciding whether to perform a biopsy in men with elevated levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA).

October 31, 2002 – NCI researchers have discovered that a molecule best known for its antimicrobial properties also has the ability to activate key cells in the immune response. This newly discovered function suggests the molecule, a peptide called ß-defensin 2, may be useful in the development of more effective cancer vaccines.

December 12, 2002 – A new clinical trial has shown that reducing the interval between successive doses of a commonly used chemotherapy regimen improves survival in women whose breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. While previous research has evaluated the use of various forms of "dose dense" chemotherapy, this is the first major controlled study to show a clear survival benefit for women with node-positive breast cancer.

February 2003 – NCI scientists, using DNA microarrays, found that the length of survival following diagnosis of mantle cell lymphoma can be accurately predicted based on gene expression measurements in the diagnostic tumor biopsy. This molecular predictor can identify one quartile of these patients who have a very indolent disease, with a median survival of greater than 6 years, and another quartile that have an aggressive disease, with a median survival of less than one year. Using this predictor, patients with the indolent form of mantle cell lymphoma can be managed conservatively, whereas new clinical trials can be designed specifically for those patients with the more aggressive tumors.

March 5, 2003 – Taking daily aspirin for as little as three years was shown to reduce the development of colorectal polyps by 19 percent to 35 percent in people at high risk for colorectal cancer in two randomized, controlled NCI clinical trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

April 24, 2003 – NCI, CDC, AHRQ, and SAMHSA, in collaboration with the American Cancer Society, launched the Cancer Control PLANET (Plan, Link, Act, Network with Evidence-based Tools), a web portal providing access to regularly updated cancer surveillance data and program resources including cancer control interventions. PLANET is d esigned to also help state- and community-based planners, program staff, and researchers develop, implement, and evaluate evidence-based cancer control programs. The portal is accompanied by in-person technical support meetings with state and regional public and private sector partnership staff who are working together to use PLANET resources for comprehensive cancer control. (Visit for more information.)

June 24, 2003 – Results of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, testing the effectiveness of finasteride to prevent the disease are announced about a year earlier than expected: men taking finasteride had 25 percent fewer prostate cancer diagnoses than men on the placebo, proving that prostate cancer can be prevented. There was a note of caution, however; the men who did develop prostate cancer while taking finasteride were more likely to have high-grade tumors.

July 1, 2003 – New data from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial give fresh insight into the appropriate screening intervals for colorectal cancer after a negative exam. This is the largest study to date of repeat sigmoidoscopy screening after an exam. The current accepted interval for sigmoidoscopy, a technique in which the rectum and lower colon are examined with a lighted instrument called a sigmoidoscope, is 5 years after a negative exam. This recommendation is based primarily on indirect evidence. Exactly how often to repeat sigmoidoscopy is an evolving field of research. Whether data from the new study, which measures the incidence of growths or polyps three years after an initial exam, will play a role in changing the current five-year interval is not clear.

September 2, 2003 – Death rates from the four most common cancers - lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal - continued to decline in the late 1990s according to new data from the "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2000.

October 9, 2003 – A Canadian-led international clinical trial has found that post-menopausal survivors of early-stage breast cancer who took the drug letrozole after completing an initial five years of tamoxifen therapy had a significantly reduced risk of cancer recurrence compared to women taking a placebo. The clinical trial has been halted early because of the positive results and researchers are notifying the 5,187 women worldwide who have participated in the study.

November 6, 2003 – NCI scientists demonstrated that the growth factors interleukin-2 (IL-2) and IL-15 have contrasting roles in the life and death of lymphocytes, an observation that has implications for the immunotherapy of cancer and autoimmune diseases.

NCI Legislative Chronology

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. Congressman Warren G. Magnuson of Washington introduced an identical bill (H.R. 6100) in the House.

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 FY1994 NCI is directed to allocate 7 percent of its appropriation to cancer control, in FY 1995, 9 percent, and in FY1996, 10 percent.

August 13, 1998 – The Stamp Out Breast Cancer Act (PL 105-41) was signed into law. The bill established a special alternative rate of postage up to 25 percent higher than a regular first-class stamp. Seventy percent of the profits from the sale of the stamp, also referred to as semipostal, would go to NIH to fund breast cancer research; the remaining 30 percent would go toward DOD breast cancer research.

July 28, 2000 – President Clinton signed into law the Semipostal Authorization Act (P.L. 106-253), which gave the U.S. Postal Service the authority to issue semipostals. These stamps are sold at a premium in order to help provide funding for a particular area of research. The law also extended the Breast Cancer Stamp Act until July 29, 2002.

July 10, 2000 – The Radiation Exposure Compensation Amendments of 1999 (P.L. 106-245) was signed into law. The bill allowed more workers who handled radioactive material for weapons programs to be eligible to receive federal compensation for radiation-induced illness. The law expanded previously written compensation acts, making more grades of workers eligible for compensation, and to include compensation for brain, lung, bladder, colon, ovary, and salivary gland cancers.

November 12, 2001 – The President signed PL 107-67 making appropriations for the Treasury Department, the United States Postal Service, the Executive Office of the President, and certain Independent Agencies, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2002, and for other purposes. Within this bill was a provision to reauthorize the Breast Cancer Research Postage Stamp through July 29, 2008.

January 4, 2002 – President Bush signed PL 107-109 - S. 1789, the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act. This legislation was designed to improve the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals for children, by reauthorizing legislation that encourages pediatric drug research by giving drug companies an incentive of 6 months of additional market exclusivity to test their products for use in children.

May 14, 2002 – The President signed the Hematologic Cancer Research Investment and Education Act of 2002 (PL 107-172) that directed the NIH Director, through the NCI Director, to conduct and support research on blood cancers. In addition, the CDC was directed to establish and carry out an information and education program.

September 10, 2002 – The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act (PL 107-188) was signed and contains a provision that instructs Federal agencies to stockpile and distribute potassium iodide (KI) to protect the public from thyroid cancer in the event of a radiation emergency.

Biographical Sketch of NCI Director Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D.

Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach became the 12th Director of the National Cancer Institute in its 66 year history on January 22, 2002. A nationally recognized urologic surgeon, Dr. von Eschenbach has dedicated his professional life and administrative expertise to eliminating the suffering and death due to cancer. His distinguished career as a key leader in the fight against cancer spans three decades and is fueled by a passionate commitment to rapidly translating the fruits of scientific discovery to all who are in need.

This commitment helped form the basis of NCI's Challenge Goal: To eliminate the death and suffering from cancer by the year 2015. With a strong emphasis on new enabling technologies, exploitation of breakthroughs in basic research, and the formation of innovative partnerships, Dr. von Eschenbach is fusing this ambitious vision of accelerated progress across the cancer research community and among NCI's public and private stakeholders.

Prior to accepting the appointment to lead the NCI, Dr. von Eschenbach directed both the Genitourinary Cancer Center and the Prostate Cancer Research Program at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, one of the nation's top scientific research institutions. As the founder and driving force behind the Center's Prostate Cancer Research Program, his dynamic leadership is credited with fostering model integrated research programs in the biology, epidemiology, prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. 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.

Dr. von Eschenbach arrived at M.D. Anderson as a urologic oncology fellow in 1976 and was invited to join the faculty a year later. In 1983--just six years after joining the staff--he was named chairman of the Department of Urology. Other positions he held include Consulting Professor of Cell Biology and Professor of Urology.

Dr. von Eschenbach, himself a two-time cancer survivor, has had an impact on the fight against cancer that extends beyond research, clinical and academic communities. He was a founding member of the National Dialogue on Cancer and prior to his accepting the position at the NCI, he was President-elect of the American Cancer Society. Dr. von Eschenbach has contributed more than 200 articles, books, and chapters to the scientific literature.

Dr. von Eschenbach has been widely recognized for his leadership in the fight against cancer by many influential organizations. The American Urological Association selected him to deliver the prestigious Ramon Guiteras Lecture at their annual meeting. He was recently awarded an honorary degree from his medical school alma mater, Georgetown University School of Medicine. Dr. von Eschenbach also received the Julie Rogers "Spirit of Love" award for exemplary dedication, commitment and spirit in the fight against cancer, the Achievement Award in Prostate Cancer from Partners in Courage for outstanding support and leadership, the Medical Award of Excellence from Cancer Counseling, and the Certificate of Meritorious Service for Outstanding Contributions to Prostate Disease Research from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

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.

NCI Directors

In Office From
Carl Voegtlin
January 13, 1938
July 31, 1943
Roscoe Roy Spencer
August 1, 1943
July 1, 1947
Leonard Andrew Scheele
July 1, 1947
April 6, 1948
John Roderick Heller
May 15, 1948
July 1, 1960
Kenneth Millo Endicott
July 1, 1960
November 10, 1969
Carl Gwin Baker
July 13, 1970
May 5, 1972
Frank Joesph Rauscher, Jr.
May 5, 1972
November 1, 1976
Arthur Canfield Upton
July 29, 1977
December 31, 1980
Vincent T. DeVita, Jr.
July 9, 1980
September 1, 1988
Samuel Broder
December 22, 1988
April 1, 1995
Richard D. Klausner
August 1, 1995
September 30, 2001
Andrew C. von Eschenbach
January 22, 2002

Research Programs
Extramural | Intramural

Extramural Research

With guidance and oversight from program experts in NCI's Divisions of Cancer Biology, Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, Cancer Prevention, Cancer Control and Population Sciences, and Extramural Activities, 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 within NCI and Institutes within NIH 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 multidisciplinary program of basic and applied research on cancer cell biology, including research on carcinogenesis and cancer immunology. Six Branches within DCB support a variety of broad-based investigator-initiated research grants from academic institutions, research institutes, and small businesses.

The Cancer Cell Biology Branch encourages and supports basic research projects covering a broad spectrum of topics directed at understanding the biological basis of cancer. The portfolio includes the search for genes, proteins and networks responsible for the cancer phenotype, investigation of aberrantly modified regulatory processes that promote cell proliferation or inhibit cell death, and the identification of connecting pathways that ensure tumor cell survival. The research utilizes non-mammalian organisms as well as mammalian models to undertake the functional analysis of abnormal genetic expression or genetic loss, in parallel with studies on human tumor cells and tissues to confirm the physiological relevance of the research findings. Other areas of special focus include the subcellular location and trafficking of proteins in the cell, cellular processes of proteolysis, and the basis of genetic resistance and susceptibility. Investigations in all tumor cell types are included.

The Cancer Etiology Branch plans, develops and directs a national extramural research program dealing with biological, chemical and physical agents that are possible etiological factors or co-factors in cancer and with the control of these agents and their associated diseases. Specific agents of interest include infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria and chemical carcinogens such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and hormones. Investigations include studies of the agents themselves and their properties, mechanisms of oncogenesis and carcinogenesis, interactions of oncogenic microbiological agents with their hosts, and basic studies to identify possible targets for preventive or therapeutic measures.

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.

The DNA and Chromosome Aberrations Branch supports a basic cancer research program that emphasizes genomic studies at the DNA and chromosome level, including discovery of genes at sites of chromosome breaks, deletions, and translocations, DNA repair, structure and mechanisms of chromosome alterations, epigenetic changes, radiation- and chemical-induced changes in DNA replication and other alterations, and supporting analytical technologies. Research on chemically induced changes to cell macromolecules is supported in areas such as the genetics of tumor susceptibility and resistance, mutagenesis, and DNA damage/repair. The DNA damage/repair area covers studies in mismatch, base-excision, nucleotide excision, double-strand break, transcription-coupled and replication-coupled DNA repair. Research on relationships between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation induced DNA damage signaling, cell cycle control, chromatin remodeling and individual or coordinated groupings of DNA repair networks are also supported.

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 Tumor Biology and Metastasis Branch supports research that seeks to understand the interactions of cancer cells with the tumor or host microenvironment to delineate the molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways of tumor growth, angiogenesis, lymphangiogenesis, cell migration and invasion, and tumor progression and metastasis. This includes examination of cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions and matrix-degrading enzymes, and the roles played by cell growth factors and cytokines, cell adhesion molecules, cytoskeleton, the nuclear matrix and lamins, the pathobiology of solid tumors and tumor bearing animals, and the development of technology to facilitate these studies. An emerging area of emphasis is the microenvironment created by inflammation and the inflammatory signaling molecules in tumor initiation and progression. Emphasis is also placed on the following areas: the role of the extracellular matrix and tissue microenvironment in development and tissue morphogenesis; the role of glycoproteins and proteoglycans in tumor growth, invasion, and metastasis; the role of caveolae/lipid rafts and plasma membranes; and the role of steroid hormones, their receptors and coactivators during tumor growth, progression and the acquisition of the hormone independent phenotype. Models used in these studies may include animal models, tumor tissues/cells, their components, or their products. Special attention is also given to delineating mechanisms of organ-specific metastasis, and the development of organotypic models that closely mimic in vivo models is encouraged.  

The Mouse Models of Human Cancers Consortium (MMHCC) is a multi-disciplinary program of human/mouse integrative cancer research. The MMHCC has twenty groups of investigators with substantial crosscutting expertise in all areas of cancer research. This enables the Consortium to address major questions about the natural history and clinical course of human cancers using novel strategies to derive appropriate cancer-prone mice and compare them to the corresponding human diseases. The MMHCC is a cooperative group whose members also work closely with the NCI to provide information resources for the entire cancer research community (http:/ and access to cancer models (http:/cancer

The Integrative Cancer Biology Program promotes the analysis of cancer as a complex biological system, with an ultimate goal of developing reliably predictive in silico models for development of cancer interventions and understanding. This initiative will encourage the emergence of integrative cancer biology as a distinct field.

The complexity of cancer together with increases in information concerning the cancer cell and its environment raises both challenges and opportunities in modern cancer biology. A comprehensive understanding of these genome-scale datasets depends on our ability to apply computational or mathematical modeling to them. The development of models is necessary as a framework for data analysis and validation. In turn, new data will help to refine model development. Multi-component, interactive processes at the sub-cellular, cellular, tissue, and organ levels should be amenable to modeling and simulation in ways previously limited by the lack of adequate data. Because this field is largely undeveloped, there is an opportunity to facilitate its development.

To address this opportunity requires a concerted effort at integrating the various disciplines into a collaborative systems biology program consisting of a cohesive group of dedicated researchers working on a common problem in cancer biology. This will require the involvement of scientists with new areas of expertise, particularly from the computational disciplines of mathematics, engineering, physics, and computer science. The need for quantitative data will drive the development of new instrumentation and methods. The organization and representation of these data streams and their relation to preexisting knowledge will require bioinformatics advances, and the development of computer-based cancer biology hypotheses and intra- and inter-cellular simulations will require mathematical expertise, as will the development of new theoretical frameworks.

The Beamline Initiative - The National Cancer Institute through The Division of Cancer Biology has joined with the Institute of General Medicine to construct a new, state of the art, experimental facility for structural biology. Structural biology plays a critical role in both basic research into cancer mechanisms and translational research into structure based drug design. Beginning in 2005, this X-Ray crystallography facility, the GM/CA CAT, a part of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Lab, will provide the cancer community access to three state of the art experimental stations to facilitate the determination of the atomic structures of important cancer related molecules. This information may be used to develop and refine high-resolution pictures of the mechanisms behind the development of cancers, develop and refine targets for rational drug design, and develop and refine chemotherapeutics for use in the clinic.

Additional information about NCI's Division of Cancer Biology can be found at or .

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 supports research that explores the long and short term physical and psychological effects of cancer and its treatment. The Office provides 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 Office 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 evaluates patterns and trends in cancer associated health behaviors and practices, genetic susceptibilities, outcomes, and services. The Program 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 Program is comprised of three branches: Health Services and Economics, Outcomes Research, and Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods.

The Behavioral Research Program 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 Program 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. Staff manages and fosters a range of etiologic research on genetic, environmental, infectious, hormonal, lifestyle, and pharmacologic factors in cancer etiology. The Program includes the Analytic Epidemiology Research Branch and the Clinical and Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch.

The Surveillance Research Program supports cancer surveillance and health services research to answer key questions about cancer incidence and mortality in diverse regions and populations of the U.S. The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER), a major component of the Program, collects cancer data on a routine basis from designated population-based cancer registries in various areas of the country. The Program includes the Cancer Statistics Branch and the Statistical Research and Applications Branch.

Additional information about NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences can be found at or

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 11 Research Groups that focus on either defined scientific subject areas or specific organ systems.

The Chemopreventive Agent Development Research Group focuses on the identification, preclinical development, and qualification of potential cancer preventive agents for phase I clinical studies. Research includes all classes of agents and a wide range of methodologies and technologies. This group also manages the Rapid Access to Preventive Intervention Development program (RAPID), which helps bridge the gap between discovery and clinical testing; supports clinical trial development, agent acquisition, Investigational New Drug (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 works to improve clinical oncology in community settings via the Community Clinical Oncology Program. The CCOP 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. NCI's large-scale prevention trials are coordinated through the CCOP program, including the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR) for breast cancer prevention and the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) for prostate cancer prevention.

The Nutritional Science Research Group generates and tests hypotheses relating diet to the causation and prevention of cancer; and works to establish a comprehensive understanding of the precise role of bioactive food components in determining cancer risk and tumor behavior. The group seeks to determine how specific genes and/or molecular targets are influenced by either essential or non-essential nutrients, allowing the identification of people who will or will not benefit from a prevention intervention.

The Basic Prevention Science Research Group integrates fundamental research from intramural and extramural divisions to study the role of molecular markers in cancer prevention. Specific components of this approach include the molecular genetics of cancer risk and the molecular pathogenesis of precancer and cancer. Specimens under study by this group are generated from population studies as well as clinical trials, and the ultimate goal is to apply accumulated data to clinical trials in cancer prevention.

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 Early Detection Research Network, a program of translational research to identify early cancer and cancer risk, is managed by this group.

The Early Detection Research Group 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. This group 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. NCI's large-scale early detection trials are coordinated through this program, including the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO) and the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST).

The Biometry 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 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 as well as trials that develop agents based on measures of efficacy, such as cancer incidence reduction. Surrogate endpoint biomarkers studies also measure the modulation of the biomarkers as a potential indicator of efficacy.

In addition to the research groups, the Office of Preventive Oncology leads an accredited program to train individuals from diverse health science disciplines in the field of cancer prevention and cancer control. NCI-sponsored venues comprise a summer curriculum, mentored research, a weekly colloquia series, and condensed field assignments at other institutions.

Additional information about NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention can be found at or

Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis

The Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis (DCTD), through its cancer research programs, improves the lives of the American public by discovering better ways to detect, assess, cure, and control cancer.

The Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis Office of the Director (OD) plans, directs, and coordinates the Division's research activities in the treatment and diagnosis of cancer supported by grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements with universities, private industry, other Federal agencies.

The Cancer Imaging Program promotes and supports outstanding basic, translational, and clinical research in the imaging sciences and technology, and applies the discoveries to solving national healthcare needs in cancer.

The Cancer Diagnosis Program stimulates and supports research aimed at the development of better tools to aid in the clinical management of cancer patients.

The Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program plans, assesses, and coordinates all aspects of clinical trials including extramural clinical research programs, internal resources, treatment methods and effectiveness, and compilation and exchange of data as it pertains to the development and evaluation of anticancer agents.

The Developmental Therapeutics Program stimulates and supports research programs directed towards preclinical development of therapeutic modalities for cancer and HIV disease.

The Radiation Research Program catalyzes and supports research programs directed towards clinical radiation research.

The Biometric Research Branch, the statistical and biomathematical component of DCTD, provides statistical leadership for the national research programs of the Division in developmental therapeutics, developmental diagnostics, diagnostic imaging, and clinical trials and conducts research in biostatistics, biomathematics, and computational biology.

Additional information about NCI's Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis can be found at or

Division of Extramural Activities

The Division of Extramural Activities (DEA) 1) administers and directs the National Cancer Institute's grant and contract review activities; (2) provides for receipt, referral, and initial technical and scientific merit review of grants and contracts for the Institute; (3) represents the Institute on overall NIH extramural and collaborative program policy committees and coordinates such policy for the review and administration of grants and contracts; (4) coordinates the Institute's review of research grants and training programs with the National Cancer Advisory Board and the President's Cancer Panel; (5) administers and coordinates the development and implementation of committee management policies within the Institute and provides the Institute's staff support for the National Cancer Advisory Board, the President's Cancer Panel, the Board of Scientific Advisors, and the Board of Scientific Counselors; (6) administers and coordinates the operation of the Boards of Scientific Advisors to assure uniformity and timeliness of the concept review of extramural projects to be developed under grant, contract or in response to RFAs; (7) coordinates program planning and evaluation in the extramural area; and (8) provides scientific reports and analyses on research conducted by the Institute's grant and contract programs.

Additional information about NCI's Division of Extramural Activities can be found at or

Intramural Research

Center for Cancer Research

NCI's Center for Cancer Research (CCR) was created in March 2001 by merging two vital components of the NCI's Intramural Research Program – the Division of Basic Sciences and the Division of Clinical Sciences. This merger, initiated by former NCI Director Richard Klausner, M.D. was an important step in the goal to promote closer links between basic researchers and clinical investigators, thereby enhancing their opportunities for both scientific discovery and translational research (bench-to-bedside and bedside-to-bench). CCR is committed to supporting and training young scientists and clinicians as they launch their careers in basic and clinical research. CCR offers numerous predoctoral, postdoctoral, and clinical training positions with world-class scientists and physicians who are outstanding mentors and experts in their respective fields.

CCR is composed of over 300 Principal Investigators in 54 Laboratories, Branches, and Programs. As one of the world's largest cancer research centers, CCR takes advantage of the breadth of its researchers to foster interdisciplinary programs and facilitate translational research. Basic research is a strength of CCR, with areas of investigation including immunology, carcinogenesis, human genetics, mouse genetics, viral oncology, HIV, chromatin biology, structural biology, DNA replication and recombination, signal transduction, apoptosis, cell cycle regulation, cytokines and chemokines, cellular, molecular and developmental biology, medicinal chemistry and natural products chemistry, molecular pharmacology, xenobiotic metabolism, radiation biology, computational biology, and bioinformatics. Areas of excellence in clinical and translational research include cancer vaccines, clinical proteomics, molecular targets of cancer, molecular imaging, biologic mediators, cell-based therapies, immunotoxin therapy, radiation therapy, cancer genetics, molecular epidemiology, cancer prevention, multidrug resistance, clinical pharmacology, angiogenesis, and molecular pathology.

New Scientific Opportunities in Interdisciplinary and Translational Research. The CCR mission is to reduce the burden of cancer through exploration, discovery, and translation. The goals of the NCI restructuring with the creation of the Center for Cancer Research are to foster interdisciplinary research, facilitate translational research, expedite technology development, enhance training, particularly in interdisciplinary and translational research, and build partnerships between NCI and other NIH Institutes, Federal agencies, academia, biotechnology companies and the pharmaceutical industry.

CCR, along with the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, has defined new institutional approaches to translate scientific knowledge towards achieving more effective cancer prevention, intervention, and treatment. The goal is to create an integrated, multidisciplinary research environment that brings together scientists from diverse fields to work on translating basic research findings into clinical applications. Collaboration, technology support and development, and access to resources are critical to achieving this goal. NCI has responded to this challenge by establishing Faculties composed of scientists from diverse laboratories and branches working cooperatively with a common interest in a particular discipline, disease, or approach to scientific discovery. Faculties foster collaboration, open access to new technologies and clinical resources, and challenge NCI researchers to become more involved in clinical research.

The goals of the faculties are to promote translational and interdisciplinary research, develop new technologies and resources, enhance mentoring, recruitment and training of fellows, improve communication through retreats and seminars, sponsor visiting scientists, provide strategic planning and oversight, and advise NCI leadership on important and innovative programs critical to the success of the NCI Intramural Program.

The Medical Oncology Clinical Research Unit (MOCRU) was recently established to enhance the medical oncology clinical infrastructure and to enhance clinical investigation within the CCR. The MOCRU is a group of physicians who conduct clinical studies on a specific disease or therapeutic area as a team effort. The MOCRU is composed of Clinical Research Sections in breast cancer, genitourinary/gynecologic malignancies, vaccines, lymphoma, transplantation, immunotherapy, AIDS malignancies, lung/gastrointestinal cancer, and clinical genetics. Institutional support for the program is also provided through a Phase I Clinical Research Section, scientific core services, and offices for clinical operations, protocol support, research nurses, nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, fellowship training, translational research, and Navy-Oncology. The mission of the MOCRU is to provide access to clinical research across the Center, excellence in clinical care, clinical training opportunities, and career growth for clinical staff.

Technology Development and Support. Technology development and support is another important goal of the CCR intramural program. Current technology initiatives include clinical proteomics, molecular targets drug discovery, microarray technology, animal models development, and imaging technologies. The proteomics initiative involves the search for new serum markers for cancer, development of antibody chips, protein arrays and reverse phase chips, a mass spectrometry center, protein expression laboratory and bioinformatics support. The molecular targets discovery program provides a full range of drug discovery scientific support; advising scientists on molecular target discovery, development of screening assays, conducting screens of pure compound libraries, validation of hits, and assistance in preclinical and clinical development of promising lead compounds. The microarray initiative uses modern lab automation and robotic methods for the production of gene microarrays to allow simultaneous study of the differential expression of large numbers of genes in normal, diseased, or treated cells. The animal models initiative includes transgenic and knockout core services, molecular and comparative pathology support, mouse proteomics, rodent imaging, phenotyping core support, and an animal brain tumor therapeutic and diagnostic core. The imaging initiative incorporates clinical imaging, advanced imaging applications, experimental and innovative technologies, and animal imaging into an interrelated imaging resources program.

Mentoring and Training. The CCR places a particular emphasis on training the next generation of investigators in basic, interdisciplinary, and translational cancer research. Programs offered in the CCR include Accreditation Counsel on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited residency programs in anatomic pathology, radiation oncology, and dermatology. Additionally, ACGME clinical fellowship training programs in medical oncology, pediatric hematology/oncology, hematology/pathology, and cytology/pathology are available. Fellowship programs in surgical oncology, urological oncology, neuro-oncology, HIV and AIDS malignancy, gynecologic oncology, cancer epidemiology, cancer genetics and cancer prevention are also offered. Translational research opportunities include fellowships in Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Research, Postdoctoral Fellowships in Radiation Sciences, Clinical Cancer Research Fellowship for Ph.D.s., and a Training Program in Veterinary Pathology. Interdisciplinary fellowship programs include a Biostatistics/Mathematics Training Fellowship (Informatics Training Program) and a Program for Interdisciplinary Training in Chemistry.

The Center is actively involved in the recently established NIH-Graduate Program Partnership initiative, which attracts outstanding graduate students to CCR laboratories. Areas of partnership currently under development include bioinformatics, chemistry, and comparative pathology. The Cancer Research Training Award and the Visiting Fellows program for foreign trainees are available in all the Laboratories, Branches, and Programs.

The CCR Office of Training and Education (OTE) was created in November of 2001 to support the training and mentoring experience for postdoctoral fellows. The OTE mission is to have a programmatic impact on the overall training experience of the basic scientists and clinical fellows in cancer research. This mission is achieved by facilitating and promoting training opportunities for fellows utilizing NCI, NIH, and academic courses; planning and implementing new courses and training programs to prepare fellows as successful independent biomedical researchers; providing opportunities for secondary mentors and expanded collaborative interactions; providing funding mechanisms to reward outstanding research efforts by postdoctoral fellows; implementing funding mechanisms such as the Career Development Awards (K22) to facilitate the fellows' competitiveness as candidates for academic faculty positions; assisting trainees as they transition into academic positions and offering exposure to alternative career paths; and assisting investigators in the recruiting of new postdoctoral candidates. The major responsibilities of the OTE include the CCR Fellows and Young Investigators Retreat, the Tenure Track Investigators Retreat, exceptional pay increases for Postdoctoral Fellows, the CCR Fellows Editorial Board, and the Summer Intern Program. The OTE serves as a resource for the fellows' community and as a liaison to the Office of the Director. The Office of Training and Education will represent the Center both within the NIH and at outside meetings and institutions to recruit quality scientific and professional staff for the research programs.

Partnerships with Academia and Industry. CCR is committed to forming partnerships that encourage technology development with industry, academia and the private sector. CCR scientists and clinicians have a history of successful research collaborations with colleagues nationally and internationally. The CCR is also active in the area of technology transfer and strives to ensure that scientific breakthroughs reach the public through formal agreements between the government and industry. During the last year there were over 140 active Collaborative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) between CCR investigators and outside institutions. These CRADA collaborations were with more than 85 different organizations.

In addition, CCR has further excelled through partnership by participating in many informal collaborations and formal collaborations by way of material transfer agreements, licensing agreements, and memorandums of understanding.

Unique Aspects of the Intramural Research Program. The juxtaposition of basic and clinical researchers in this large, diverse yet highly interactive Center provides exceptional translational research and training opportunities. With the resources available at the NIH Clinical Center, which houses over 50% of the NIH-funded general clinical research center beds in the U.S., CCR scientists have a unique environment to move new drugs and diagnostics quickly from the bench to the bedside. Medical care is provided without charge to patients enrolled on NCI protocols.

CCR is a center of excellence for vaccine development and cell-based cancer immunotherapies utilizing specialized expertise, techniques and facilities that exist within the Intramural Program. An example of the uniqueness of the Intramural Program is seen in the basic and clinical proteomics initiative – a collaboration between the NCI and the FDA built on Laser Capture Microdissection technology. Laser Capture Microdissection, developed in the CCR Laboratory of Pathology, involves identification and extraction of microscopic homogenous cellular subpopulations from surrounding tissue.

This technology is now being used to isolate tumor versus normal cellular subpopulations to identify potential molecular targets for cancer therapies. The long-range commitment needed to develop the technology to accurately identify specific targets for various cancers requires support that is unique to the Intramural Research Program. Another component of the proteomics initiative is the identification of novel markers for early cancer detection.

These types of long-term, high-risk projects can accelerate the pace of medical research with public health importance and have an immeasurable impact on improving the nation's health care.

The Future. With the creation of CCR, communication, collaborations, and translational research opportunities among the intramural scientists have been increased. To go from bench to bedside and back requires an environment that is not available to most individual investigators or at most research institutions. CCR is unique in having strong basic and clinical components within the same institutional organization and an institutional infrastructure that facilitates the translation of discoveries from the laboratory to the clinic and, in turn, submits clinical observations back to the laboratory for further analysis.

The CCR and the Intramural Research Program are an invaluable resource for generating initiatives that will help guide and shape the direction of the NCI. CCR will continue to serve as a model for interdisciplinary and translational biomedical research programs, and lead the development of new technologies, provide advanced training for the next generation of cancer scientists, and pioneer new avenues for cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Additional information about NCI's Center for Cancer Research can be found at

Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics

Through its broadly-based programs in epidemiology, genetics, statistics, and related areas, the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) carries out population-based and interdisciplinary research both nationally and internationally to discover the genetic and environmental determinants of cancer. DCEG is uniquely positioned to conduct epidemiologic research projects that are high-risk in nature and require (a) long-term commitments of scientific staff and funding support through contracts, (b) a coordinated national programmatic approach, or (c) a rapid response to emerging public health or scientific issues. The Division develops multi-disciplinary infrastructures and resources for use throughout the scientific community, including database management software for biospecimen inventories and family-based studies, a variety of software packages for exposure assessment and for estimation of dietary intake, and interactive cancer atlases to generate leads into the environmental determinants of cancer. DCEG also has a firm commitment to training the next generation of scientists, and has developed specialized tracks in genetic epidemiology, radiation epidemiology, molecular epidemiology, and biostatistics. The research conducted by the Division often provides a scientific basis for public health recommendations and policies.

The Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program consists 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 Program investigates demographic variation in the occurrence of cancer by age, race, gender, geography, and over time (descriptive studies). Special emphasis is placed on the studies into carcinogenic effects of occupational and environmental exposures, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, dietary and nutritional factors, medicinal agents such as hormones, infectious agents, and host factors including genetic susceptibility to cancer-causing exposures. The Program also develops biostatistical methods for family-based and population-based studies.

The Human Genetics Program provides an expanded focus for interdisciplinary research into the genetic determinants of human cancer. Its two branches explore and identify heritable factors that predispose to cancer, including studies of gene-environment interactions. Program investigators study cancer-prone families to identify and clone predisposing genes; investigate the prevalence of identified genes in the general population; conduct pharmacogenetic studies to evaluate genetic polymorphisms as determinants of cancer risk and treatment outcomes; develop new methodologies in genetic epidemiology; and translate advances in molecular genetics into evidence-based management strategies, such as genetic testing and counseling, cancer screening and prevention strategies, and assessment of social and behavioral aspects of heritable cancer.

Additional information about NCI's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics can be found at

This page was last reviewed on June 21, 2005 .

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