NIH News Release
National Cancer Institute

Friday, December 3, 1999

Contact: NCI Press Office
(301) 496-6641

NCI Awards First Grants for the Director's Challenge

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced today that it has awarded the first 10 grants of a major new initiative to define the patterns of molecular changes in tumors called "The Director's Challenge: Toward a Molecular Classification of Tumors." These molecular profiles will lay the foundation for the precise molecular diagnosis of cancer. Currently, cancers are diagnosed primarily based on the microscopic appearance of tumors and their clinical staging.

If successful, the new tumor classification schemes will more accurately reflect an individual patient's risk of the cancer progressing. "Correct and informative diagnosis is the cornerstone of modern medicine," said NCI Director Richard Klausner, M.D. "This initiative will initiate the next great intellectual leap forward in accurately diagnosing cancer by defining, for the first time, the very molecules that are driving the growth of individual tumors. "

As part of the initiative, investigators will work collaboratively, with the assistance of NCI staff, to identify ways to represent research data, so that other cancer researchers can interpret and analyze it. They also will develop strategies for publicly releasing research data. This approach to data sharing should significantly increase the value of the data, and it should maximize the impact of the NCI investment in molecular-based tumor classification research. The NCI also anticipates that approaches to data sharing pioneered by the Director's Challenge investigators will serve as future models for the cancer research community.

Today's announcement reports the first of two funding actions that will take place for the NCI initiative. The second funding will follow review of applications received by Nov. 16, 1999.

For more information about cancer diagnosis and other areas of cancer research visit the Cancer Diagnosis Program Web site at and the NCI's Web site for patients, public and the mass media at