National Cancer Institute (NCI)


The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is one of 11 agencies that compose the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The NCI, established under the National Cancer Institute Act of 1937, is the Federal Government's principal agency for cancer research and training. The National Cancer Act of 1971 broadened the scope and responsibilities of the NCI and created the National Cancer Program. Over the years, legislative amendments have maintained the NCI authorities and responsibilities and added new information dissemination mandates as well as a requirement to assess the incorporation of state-of-the-art cancer treatments into clinical practice. 

The National Cancer Institute coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and the families of cancer patients. Specifically, the Institute:

  • Funds and coordinates research projects conducted by universities, hospitals, research foundations, and businesses throughout this country and abroad through research grants and cooperative agreements.
  • Conducts research in its own laboratories and clinics.
  • Supports education and training in fundamental sciences and clinical disciplines for participation in basic and clinical research programs and treatment programs relating to cancer through career awards, training grants, and fellowships.
  • Supports research projects in cancer control.
  • Supports a national network of cancer centers.
  • Collaborates with voluntary organizations and other national and foreign institutions engaged in cancer research and training activities.
  • Encourages and coordinates cancer research by industrial concerns where such concerns evidence a particular capability for programmatic research.
  • Collects and disseminates information on cancer.
  • Supports construction of laboratories, clinics, and related facilities necessary for cancer research through the award of construction grants.

For additional information about NCI and recent cancer research findings, visit the NCI 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 6 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, Maryland, 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 NCI, 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 4 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 8 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 NIH's Division of Research Resources' 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—The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (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.

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 NCI, the pharmaceutical industry, and NCI-supported cooperative groups was developed. The statement articulates the need for collaboration between 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—HHS 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 5 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 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (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% between 1991 and 1995, the first sustained decline since national record keeping was instituted in the 1930s.

1996—The NCI Office of Liaison Activities was established to ensure that advocates have 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, launched the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project with 2 overall goals: to enhance discovery of the acquired and inherited molecular changes in cancer and to evaluate the clinical potential of these discoveries. The project included a website allowing scientists to rapidly access data generated through the project and apply it to their studies.

October 1997—NCI reorganization continued, 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.

1997—The NCI Director's Consumer Liaison Group was 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 showed first sustained decline since NCI began keeping records in 1973. The rates dropped 0.7% per year from 1990 to 1995. Cancer mortality rates continued to decline.

April 6, 1998—Results of the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial, testing the effectiveness of tamoxifen to prevent the disease, were announced 14 months earlier than expected: women taking tamoxifen had 45% fewer breast cancer diagnoses than women on the placebo, proving that breast cancer can be prevented. Rare but serious side effects—endometrial cancer and blood clots—were shown to occur in some postmenopausal women on tamoxifen. A study to compare tamoxifen to another, potentially less toxic drug was planned for fall 1998.

September 25, 1998—The FDA 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% 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 4 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 was 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 were intended to build relationships between large research institutions and community-based programs. Eighteen grants at 17 institutions were expected to create or implement cancer control, prevention, research, and training programs in minority and underserved populations. The cooperative relationships established by the Networks fostered cancer awareness activities, supported minority enrollment in clinical trials, and encouraged and promoted 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 2 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, was designed to determine if these 2 dietary supplements can protect against prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer, after skin cancer, in men. The study was expected to 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 mammography 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% of ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed at a late clinical stage and have a 20% or less chance of survival at 5 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 chemotherapy. 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—An NCI-funded trial showed that 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. The relative risk for 10 to 19 years of use was 80% higher risk than non-users, and increased to a 220% 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 2 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. The trial 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.

2003—A novel approach to treatment of solid cancers involves therapeutic agents that inhibit the generation of new blood vessels in growing tumors (angiogenesis). The evidence linking tumor growth and metastases with angiogenesis is compelling: in colorectal and breast cancers, the density of microvessels in histologic specimens has been correlated with disease recurrence, metastases, and survival. Of the identified angiogenic factors, vascular endothelial growth factor has been shown to be the most potent and specific.

March 5, 2003—Taking daily aspirin for as little as 3 years was shown to reduce the development of colorectal polyps by 19% to 35% in people at high risk for colorectal cancer in 2 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 designed 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.)

May 30, 2003—Under an agreement between FDA and NCI, the 2 agencies, overseen by an Interagency Oncology Task Force, will share knowledge and resources to facilitate the development of new cancer drugs and speed their delivery to patients.

June 24, 2003—Results of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, testing the effectiveness of finasteride to prevent the disease, were announced about a year earlier than expected. Men taking finasteride had 25% 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—Data from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial gave fresh insight into the appropriate screening intervals for colorectal cancer after a negative exam. This was the largest study to date of repeat sigmoidoscopy screening after an exam. In 2003 the accepted interval for sigmoidoscopy, a technique in which the rectum and lower colon are examined with a lighted instrument called a sigmoidoscope, was 5 years after a negative exam. This recommendation was based primarily on indirect evidence. Exactly how often to repeat sigmoidoscopy is an evolving field of research. It was unclear whether data from this study, which measured the incidence of growths or polyps 3 years after an initial exam, might play a role in changing the recommended 5-year interval.

September 2, 2003—Death rates from the 4 most common cancers—lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal—continued to decline in the late 1990s according to data from the "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2000."

October 9, 2003—A Canadian-led international clinical trial found that post-menopausal survivors of early-stage breast cancer who took the drug letrozole after completing an initial 5 years of tamoxifen therapy had a significantly reduced risk of cancer recurrence compared to women taking a placebo. The clinical trial had been halted early because of the positive results.

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.

June 3, 2004—NCI's Annual Report to the Nation found cancer incidence and death rates on the decline as survival rates showed significant improvement. Overall, cancer death rates for all racial and ethnic populations combined declined by 1.1% per year from 1993 to 2001 and also declined for many of the top 15 cancers in both men and women. Lung cancer death rates among women leveled off for the first time between 1995 and 2001 after increasing continuously for many decades.

July 16, 2004—An NCI Phase I clinical trial is underway to test the safety and efficacy of BMS-354825 in chronic myeloid leukemia patients with imatinib resistance. The effectiveness of imatinib (Gleevec), a small-molecule drug that inhibits the aberrant activity of the BCR-ABL protein tyrosine kinase, has been limited due to the problem of drug resistance. BMS-354825, a closely related drug, overcomes much of this resistance.

September 13, 2004—NCI announced the Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, a 5-year initiative to integrate nanotechnology development into basic and applied cancer research to facilitate the rapid application of this science to the clinic. The initiative was designed to support the development of nanomaterials and nanoscale devices for molecular imaging and early detection, reporters of efficacy, and multifunctional therapeutics to combat the cancer process.

November 18, 2004—Scientists at NCI have created a model that predicts the survival of 191 follicular lymphoma patients based on the molecular characteristics of their tumors at diagnosis. The model is based on 2 sets of genes—called survival-associated signatures. Understanding the molecular causes of such differences in survival could provide a more accurate method to determine patient risk, which could be used to guide treatment and may suggest new therapeutic approaches.

December 10, 2004—An NCI study determined that a new molecular test can predict the risk of breast cancer recurrence and may identify women who will benefit most from chemotherapy. The test is based on levels of expression (increased or decreased) of a panel of cancer-related genes that is used to predict whether estrogen-dependent breast cancer will come back.

February 16, 2005—In preparation for the new generation of molecular-based oncology medical products, NCI and FDA established an NCI-FDA Research and Regulatory Review Fellowship program. The program is designed to train a cadre of researchers to bridge the processes from scientific discovery through clinical development and regulatory review of new oncology products. The new generation of targeted therapies and diagnostic products will demand new skills and processes that must be incorporated into the current research and regulatory system. The NCI-FDA fellowship program represents an innovative and collaborative approach to that objective. The NCI-FDA Research and Regulatory Fellowship program is an initiative of NCI's and FDA's Interagency Oncology Task Force (IOTF), a major collaboration between the 2 agencies. The IOTF was established in recognition of the fact that cross-fertilization between the NCI and FDA is critical for developing the knowledge base necessary to bring new, molecular-based therapies and diagnostics into the clinical practice of oncology. or

April 12, 2005—NCI announced the creation of the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid™. The program brings together open source, open access tools, applications, data and standards developed by the caBIG™ community to accelerate cancer research, prevention and care. caBIG™ providies the foundational infrastructure and specific applications to create a World Wide Web of cancer research. Over 800 individuals from NCI-designated Cancer Centers and other organizations (more than 80 organizations in all) are participating.

April 25, 2005—The combination of the targeted agent trastuzumab (Herceptin) and standard chemotherapy cuts the risk of HER-2-positive breast cancer recurrence by more than half compared with chemotherapy alone. The result comes from two large, NCI-sponsored, randomized trials testing, as adjuvant therapy, a trastuzumab/chemotherapy combination against chemotherapy alone in women with invasive, early stage, HER-2 positive breast cancer. For women with this type of aggressive breast cancer, the addition of trastuzumab to chemotherapy appears to virtually reverse prognosis from unfavorable to good.

May 6, 2005—NCI announced the Community Networks Program (CNP), a 5-year initiative to reduce cancer disparities in minority and underserved populations through community participation in education, research and training. Building upon the work of the previous Special Populations Networks, the CNP aims to improve access to- and utilization of- beneficial cancer interventions and treatments in communities experiencing cancer health disparities. For more information, see

September/October 2005—NCI implemented major components of its $144.3 million 5-year initiative for nanotechnology in cancer research. First-year awards totaling $26.3 million were expected to help establish 7 Centers of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (CCNEs). Each of the CCNE awardees is associated with 1 or more NCI-designated cancer centers, affiliated with schools of engineering and physical sciences, and partnered with not-for-profit organizations and/or private sector firms, with the specific intent of advancing the technologies being developed. In addition NCI funded awards totaling $35 million over five years to establish 12 Cancer Nanotechnology Platform Partnerships. The National Cancer Institute and the National Science Foundation launched a collaboration to establish integrative training environments for U.S. science and engineering doctoral students to focus on interdisciplinary nanoscience and technology research with applications to cancer. Through this partnership, $12.8 million in grants are being awarded to four institutions over the next 5 years. These advances are part of the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, launched in September 2004 as a comprehensive, integrated initiative to develop and translate cancer-related nanotechnology research into clinical practice.

September 16, 2005—Preliminary results from a large, clinical trial of digital vs. film mammography showed no difference in detecting breast cancer for the general population of women in the trial. However, those women with dense breasts, who are pre- or perimenopausal (women who had a last menstrual period within 12 months of their mammograms), or who are younger than age 50 may benefit from having a digital rather than a film mammogram. These results may give clinicians better guidance and greater choice in deciding which women might benefit most from various forms of mammography.

September 28, 2005—NCI and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) created Rembrandt (Repository for Molecular BRAin Neoplasia DaTa), a joint informatics initiative to molecularly characterize a large number of primary brain tumors and to correlate those data with extensive retrospective and prospective clinical data. Understanding the biology behind these tumors and overlaying this valuable data on clinical data will provide clues to discover new therapies.

October 5, 2005—NCI' Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2002, showed observed cancer death rates from all cancers combined dropped 1.1% per year from 1993 to 2002. According to the report's authors, declines in death rates reflect progress in prevention, early detection, and treatment.

October 11, 2005—NCI announced the Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer (TREC) initiative to study the effects of diet, weight, and physical activity on cancer and to answer critical questions to help guide our nation's public health efforts. The TREC initiative was one of many NIH-funded programs designed to understand and reduce the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States.

October 2005—The Patient Navigator Research Program (PNRP), an NCI initiative, was underway to assess the impact of patient navigators on providing timely and quality standard cancer care to patients following an abnormal cancer finding. The PNRP was designed to encourage research collaborations and partnerships with organizations serving diverse underserved communities within cancer care delivery systems.

November 7, 2005—NCI launched a cancer biorepository pilot project designed to standardize biospecimen collection and management among investigators of the NCI's prostate cancer Specialized Programs of Research Excellence. The project was expected to enhance the quality and availability of various biospecimens and associated data for the broader scientific community. This year, NCI established the Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research (OBBR) in recognition of the critical role of biospecimens to an understanding of disease at the molecular level, and the OBBR has issues its First Generation Guidelines for NCI-Supported Biorepositories.

December 7, 2005—Results from several studies presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium validated that a new test can predict the risk of breast cancer recurrence in a sizable group of patients. The studies also appeared to identify which of those patients might benefit most from chemotherapy. The studies were heralded by researchers as an important moment in the move toward individualized cancer care. Central to the investigations was a test, Oncotype DX, that analyzed the expression of a 21-gene panel in biopsy samples from women with estrogen-dependent, lymph-node negative breast cancer, which accounts for more than 50,000 breast cancer cases in the United States each year.

December 13, 2005—NCI and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) launched a comprehensive effort to accelerate an understanding of the molecular basis of cancer through the application of genome analysis technologies, especially large-scale genome sequencing. The overall effort, called The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), began with a pilot project to determine the feasibility of a full-scale effort to systematically explore the universe of genomic changes involved in all types of human cancer. NCI and NHGRI each committed $50 million over 3 years to the TCGA Pilot Project. The project was expected to develop and test the complex science and technology framework needed to systematically identify and characterize the genetic mutations and other genomic changes associated with cancer.

January 12, 2006NCI Supports Interagency Oncology Task Force Efforts to Stimulate Faster and Safer Development of New, Life-saving Interventions for Cancer Patients—Today's announcement by the FDA of guidance for exploratory investigational new drug (IND) studies will help streamline the earliest phases of clinical research in the development of life-saving medical interventions for cancer patients.

April 17, 2006Osteoporosis Drug Raloxifene Shown to be as Effective as Tamoxifen in Preventing Invasive Breast Cancer—Initial results of the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene, or STAR, show that the drug raloxifene, currently used to prevent and treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, works as well as tamoxifen in reducing breast cancer risk for postmenopausal women at increased risk of the disease. Q & A | STAR en Español

May 23, 2006Personalized Treatment Trial for Breast Cancer Launched—The Trial Assigning IndividuaLized Options for Treatment (Rx), or TAILORx, was launched on May 23, 2006, to examine whether genes that are frequently associated with risk of recurrence for women with early-stage breast cancer can be used to assign patients to the most appropriate and effective treatment. Q & A | TAILORx en Español

June 7, 2006Gene Expression Profiling Can Accurately Diagnose Burkitt's Lymphoma—Gene profiling, a molecular technique that examines many genes simultaneously, can accurately distinguish between two types of immune cell tumors, Burkitt's lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Burkitt's lymphoma and DLBCL appear similar when viewed under a microscope but correct diagnosis is critical because each requires very different treatments.

June 8, 2006Statement from NCI on FDA Approval of the HPV Vaccine—Nearly 2 decades ago, researchers at NCI and other institutions began searching for the underlying causes of cervical cancer. That scientific quest led to today's FDA approval of the vaccine Gardasil, which protects against infection from the 2 types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause the majority of cervical cancers worldwide. HPV en Español

June 29, 2006Scientists Identify an Inherited Gene That Strongly Affects Risk for the Most Common Form of Melanoma—Researchers at NCI have identified a link between inherited and acquired genetic factors that dramatically increase the chance of developing a very common type of melanoma. This finding appeared in an online version of Science on June 29, 2006.

August 14, 2006Researchers Discover a Unique Pattern of Gene Activity that Can Predict Liver Cancer Spread—Researchers have found that a unique pattern of activity for genes in cells located in the tissue surrounding a liver tumor can accurately predict whether the cancer will spread to other parts of the liver or to other parts of the body.

August/September 2006—NCI researchers developed a new model for estimating the 5-year risk of melanoma. The model can be used by health professionals to identify individuals at increased risk of melanoma through routine office visits and help them plan for potential interventions. Also available is the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, a computer program developed by scientists at NCI and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project. This model allows a health professional to estimate a woman's individual breast cancer risk over a 5-year period and over her lifetime and compares her risk calculation with the average risk for a woman of the same age.;

September 6, 2006Annual Report to the Nation Finds Cancer Death Rates Continue to Drop; Lower Cancer Rates Observed in U.S. Latino Populations—A new report from the nation's leading cancer organizations found that Americans' risk of dying from cancer continued to drop, maintaining a trend that began in the early 1990s. However, the rate of new cancers remains stable. Questions and Answers

September 27, 2006NCI Creates Network of Clinical Proteomic Technology Centers for Cancer Research—NCI announced awards totaling $35.5 million over 5 years to establish a collaborative network of 5 Clinical Proteomic Technology Assessment for Cancer Teams.

October 2, 2006NCI Scientists Identify Novel Protein That Ties Disruption of a Critical Cellular Pathway to Birt-Hogg-Dubé Syndrome—Researchers at NCI have linked specific genetic mutations to defects in cells that lead to a rare disease known as Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome. The researchers discovered a novel protein that binds to the normal version, but not the mutant version, of the protein implicated in Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome.

October 5, 2006—The Biomarkers Consortium—The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, NIH, FDA, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a public-private biomedical research partnership, formed The Biomarkers Consortium to search for and validate new biomarkers to accelerate the delivery of new technologies, medicines, and therapies for prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. The first projects, to be undertaken by NCI, will be 2 clinical trials, one in non-Hodgkin lymphoma and one in lung cancer.

October 16, 2006NIH Announces 2 Integral Components of The Cancer Genome Atlas Pilot Project—The Cancer Genome Atlas program, created by NCI and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), will accelerate understanding of the molecular basis of cancer through the application of genome analysis technologies. NIH today announced another 2 of the components of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Pilot Project, a 3-year, $100 million collaboration to test the feasibility of using large-scale genome analysis technologies to identify important genetic changes involved in cancer. Lung, brain (glioblastoma), and ovarian cancers were chosen as the tumors for study by TCGA Pilot Project.

October 18, 2006NCI Releases Preliminary Data on Genetic Susceptibility for Prostate Cancer—NCI released new data from the Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility (CGEMS) study on prostate cancer. This information could help identify genetic factors that influence the disease and will be integral to the discovery and development of new, targeted therapies. This was the first public release of a whole-genome association study of cancer—such studies examine the entire genome, with no assumptions about which genetic alterations cause cancer.

November 2006—NCI's National Community Cancer Centers Program (NCCCP) Pilot will examine the concept of providing a comprehensive approach to cancer care for all patients in local communities through a pilot initiative scheduled to launch in early 2007. The NCCCP seeks to improve cancer care in local communities by: increasing participation in early phase clinical trials, reducing cancer health disparities, and improving overall access to prevention, screening and treatment services. The pilot program will also explore the value of a computer-based knowledge exchange network that could be used to support the work of the community sites, giving them an effective way to share findings, best practices, and other information to advance the goals and improve the NCCCP model. The pilot program will be conducted at approximately 6 community sites over a period of 3 years.

March 28, 2007MRI Detects Cancers in the Opposite Breast of Women Newly Diagnosed with Breast Cancer—Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of women who were diagnosed with cancer in one breast detected over 90% of cancers in the other breast that were missed by mammography and clinical breast exam at initial diagnosis, according to a new study. Given the established rates of mammography and clinical breast exams for detecting cancer in the opposite, or contralateral breast, adding an MRI scan to the diagnostic evaluation effectively doubled the number of cancers immediately found in these women.

April 1, 2007NCI Researchers Discover a Common Variation in a Gene Segment that Increases the Risk for Prostate Cancer—Researchers reported that a variation in a portion of DNA strongly predicts prostate cancer risk and that this common variation may be responsible for up to 20% of prostate cancer cases in white men in the United States. Researchers are scanning the entire human genome to identify common, inherited gene mutations that increase the risks for breast and prostate cancers.

April 18, 2007Decrease in Breast Cancer Rates Related to Reduction in Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy —The sharp decline in the rate of new breast cancer cases in 2003 may be related to a national decline in the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Age-adjusted breast cancer incidence rates in women in the United States fell 6.7% from 2002 to 2003. Prescriptions for HRT also declined rapidly in 2002 and 2003.

May 8, 2007—Risk of Lymphoma Increases with Hepatitis C Virus Infection—People infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) are at an increased risk of developing certain lymphomas (cancers of the lymphatic system). Researchers found that HCV infection increased the risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma by 20% to 30%. The risk of developing Waldenström's macroglobulinemia (a rare type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) went up by 300% and the risk for cryoglobulinemia, a form of blood vessel inflammation, was also elevated for those with HCV infections.

June 14, 2007NCI Launches a Pilot of its Community Cancer Centers Program to Bring Quality Cancer Care to All—NCI today launched the 3-year pilot phase of a new program that will help bring state-of-the-art cancer care to patients in community hospitals across the United States. The NCI Community Cancer Centers Program (NCCCP) was designed to encourage the collaboration of private-practice medical, surgical, and radiation oncologist—with close links to NCI research and to the network of 63 NCI-designated Cancer Centers principally based at large research universities.

October 2, 2007—National Cancer Institute Symposium Showcases HIV/AIDS Research and Introduces a New Center of Excellence in HIV/AIDS and Cancer Virology—NCI held a symposium to showcase several important historic achievements in HIV/AIDS research made by former and current NCI scientists, introduce a new Center of Excellence for HIV/AIDS and cancer virology, and discuss new directions in the continuing effort to combat HIV infection, the devastating consequences of AIDS, and AIDS-related cancers.

October 15, 2007—Annual Report to the Nation Finds Cancer Death Rate Decline Doubling—Special Feature Examines Cancer in American Indians and Alaska Natives—A new report from the nation's leading cancer organizations showed cancer death rates decreased on average 2.1% per year from 2002 through 2004, nearly twice the annual decrease of 1.1% per year from 1993 through 2002.

November 27, 2007More Accurate Method of Estimating Invasive Breast Cancer Risk in African American Women Developed—A new model for calculating invasive breast cancer risk, called the CARE model, was found to give better estimates of the number of breast cancers that would develop in African American women 50 to 79 years of age than an earlier model which was based primarily on data from white women.

January 2008—Low-Dose Drug Combination Cuts Risk of Colon Polyp Recurrence—Scientists reported that results of a randomized phase III clinical trial show that a combination of low oral doses of difluoromethylornithine and sulindac greatly reduces the recurrence of colon polyps and is safe and well tolerated.

February 10, 2008Researchers Discover Common Variations in Gene Segments that Increase the Risk for Prostate Cancer—NCI scientists and their colleagues reported that a set of genetic variations in at least 4 regions of DNA strongly predicts prostate cancer risk and that these variations may be responsible for a large number of prostate cancer cases in white men in the United States.

March 2, 2008Changes in Adult Stem Cells May Underlie Rare Genetic Disease Associated with Accelerated Aging—Adult stem cells may provide an explanation for the cause of a Hutchinson-Gilford Progeris Syndrome (HGPS), a rare disease that causes premature aging in children.

March 6, 2008Studying Mutations in Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Yields Clues for Potential New Therapies—DNA mutations found in a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that has a poor prognosis has led researchers to a better understanding of how the cancer develops and how it might be treated.

April 21, 2008Mouse Studies Identify Gene that May Influence Metastasis Risk in Breast Cancer—Researchers identified a pattern of gene activity in mice that may help to predict individual risk for breast cancer metastasis and survival in humans. A single gene called bromodomain 4 (Brd4) regulates the expression of this pattern, also called a signature. The researchers found that one result of this Brd4 regulation is the suppression of tumor growth and metastasis in a mouse model of cancer.

May 2008—Chromosome Region Linked to Lung Cancer—In a genome-wide association scan of tag SNPs, researchers identified a susceptibility locus for lung cancer that suggests a direct role for nicotine in the onset and /or growth of lung cancer in people with the SNPs, should these individuals choose to smoke. This information could lead to improved assessment tools for preventive approaches.

June 23, 2008Blocking a Single Protein Proves Toxic to Myeloma Cells in Laboratory Studies—NCI researchers found that cells from a blood-borne cancer called multiple myeloma rely on the activity of a single protein, IRF4, for the activation of a wide range of genes responsible for cell survival and spread. Blocking the production of this protein can be strikingly effective in eliminating cancer cells in laboratory models of multiple myeloma.

September 4, 2008The Cancer Genome Atlas Reports First Results of Comprehensive Study of Brain Tumors—This large-scale, comprehensive study examines the most common form of brain cancer, glioblastoma.

September 14, 2008Study Provides Clues about How Cancer Cells Develop Resistance to Chemotherapy Drug—NCI Researchers and colleagues have shown that increased expression of a gene called SIRT1 in cancer cells plays a significant role in the development of resistance to the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.

January 1, 2009Gene Abnormality Found To Predict Childhood Leukemia Relapse— Scientists have identified mutations in a gene that predict a high likelihood of relapse in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Although further research is needed, the findings are likely to provide the basis for future diagnostic tests to assess the risk of treatment failure. By using a molecular test to identify this genetic marker in ALL patients, physicians should be better able to assign patients to appropriate therapies.

February 11, 2009Researchers Find Abnormal Cells in the Blood Years before Leukemia is Diagnosed—Researchers have shown that abnormal white blood cells can be present in patients' blood more than six years prior to the diagnosis of a chronic form of lymphocytic leukemia. This finding may lead to a better understanding of the cellular changes that characterize the earliest stages of the disease and how it progresses.

March 18, 2009U.S. Cancer Screening Trial Shows No Early Mortality Benefit from Annual Prostate Cancer Screening—Six annual screenings for prostate cancer led to more diagnoses of the disease, but no fewer prostate cancer deaths, according to a major new report from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, a 17-year project of the NCI. The PLCO was designed to provide answers about the effectiveness of prostate cancer screening.

June 9, 2009Genetic Variant Associated with Resistance to Chemotherapy Drug in Women with Breast Cancer—Researchers have found links between an individual's genetics and their response to treatment with chemotherapy. The findings, by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues, show how a genetic variation, located in the SOD2 gene, may affect how a person responds to the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide. Cyclophosphamide is used in the treatment of breast and other cancers.

August 14, 2009Cancer Drug Decreases Recurrence of Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors—Results of a randomized phase III clinical trial show that targeted therapy with the drug imatinib mesylate(Gleevec) reduces disease recurrence following surgery to remove a localized gastrointestinal stromal tumor. (NOTE: preliminary results were first released in 2007, when the trial was stopped, but they were not published until 2009.)

October 4, 2009Gene Duplication Identified in an Uncommon Form of Bone Cancer—Scientists have discovered that a familial form of a rare bone cancer called chordoma is explained not by typical types of changes or mutations in the sequence of DNA in a gene, but rather by the presence of a second copy of an entire gene. Inherited large structural changes, known as copy number variations (CNVs), have been implicated in some hereditary diseases but have seldom been reported as the underlying basis for a familial cancer.

October 5, 2009Gene Mutation Linked to Type of Childhood Cancer—Researchers have identified a gene that may play a role in the growth and spread of a childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma, which develops in the body's soft tissues. The finding has revealed a potential new target for the treatment of this disease.

October 7, 2009Short Strand of RNA May Help Predict Survival and Response to Treatment for Patients with Liver Cancer—A small RNA molecule, known as a microRNA, may help physicians identify liver cancer patients who, in spite of their poor prognosis, could respond well to treatment with a biological agent called interferon. The finding, by scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and their partners at Fudan University, Shanghai, and the University of Hong Kong in China and at Ohio State University, Columbus, appeared in the Oct. 8, 2009, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

December 18, 2009Drug for Multiple Myeloma Demonstrated to Significantly Extend Disease-Free Survival—Initial results from a large, randomized clinical trial for patients with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, showed that patients who received the oral drug lenalidomide (Revlimid, also known as CC-5013) following a blood stem cell transplant had their cancer kept in check longer than patients who received a placebo.

January 6, 2010Gene Mutations Reveal Potential New Targets for Treating a Type of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma—Researchers have discovered genetic mutations that may contribute to the development of an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. These findings provide insight into a mechanism that cancer cells may use to survive, thus identifying potential new targets for treatment of the disease.

January 19, 2010The Cancer Genome Atlas Identifies Distinct Subtypes of Deadly Brain Cancer That May Lead to New Treatment StrategiesThe most common form of malignant brain cancer in adults, glioblastoma multiforme, is not a single disease but appears to be four distinct molecular subtypes, according to a study by the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network. The researchers of this study also found that response to aggressive chemotherapy and radiation differed by subtype.

April 19, 2010Long-term Results from Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene Shows Lower Toxicities of Raloxifene—Initial results in 2006 of the NCI-sponsored Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR) showed that a common osteoporosis drug, raloxifene, prevented breast cancer to the same degree, but with fewer serious side-effects, than the drug tamoxifen that had been in use many years for breast cancer prevention as well as treatment. The longer-term results show that raloxifene retained 76 percent of the effectiveness of tamoxifen in preventing invasive disease and grew closer to tamoxifen in preventing noninvasive disease, while remaining far less toxic—in particular, there was significantly less endometrial cancer with raloxifene use. Q & A

November 4, 2010Lung cancer trial results show mortality benefit with low-dose CT:—The NCI has released initial results from a large-scale test of screening methods to reduce deaths from lung cancer by detecting cancers at relatively early stages. The National Lung Screening Trial, a randomized national trial involving more than 53,000 current and former heavy smokers ages 55 to 74, compared the effects of two screening procedures for lung cancer—low-dose helical computed tomography (CT) and standard chest X-ray—on lung cancer mortality and found 20 percent fewer lung cancer deaths among trial participants screened with low-dose helical CT.

November 10, 2010Researchers discover key mutation in acute myeloid leukemia;—Researchers have discovered mutations in a particular gene that affects the treatment prognosis for some patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive blood cancer that kills 9,000 Americans annually.

December 23, 2010NCI announces plans to reinvigorate clinical trials—The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has announced major changes to be made in the long-established Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Program that conducts many of the nationwide trials of new cancer therapies.

March 10, 2011US cancer survivors grows to nearly 12 million—The number of cancer survivors in the United States increased to 11.7 million in 2007, according to a report released by NCI and CDC. There were 3 million cancer survivors in 1971 and 9.8 million in 2001. Survivors En español

March 31, 2011Report to Nation finds continued declines in many cancer rates—Rates of death in the United States from all cancers for men and women continued to decline between 2003 and 2007, the most recent reporting period available, according to the latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer. The report also finds that the overall rate of new cancer diagnoses for men and women combined decreased an average of slightly less than 1 percent per year for the same period. Q & A | Decline En español

May 31, 2011Origins of XMRV deciphered, undermining claims for a role in human disease—Delineation of the origin of the retrovirus known as XMRV from the genomes of laboratory mice indicates that the virus is unlikely to be responsible for either prostate cancer or chronic fatigue syndrome in humans, as has been widely published. The virus arose because of genetic recombination of two mouse viruses. Q & A | XMRV En español.

June 5, 2011News Note: New chemotherapy scheduling improves survival for most common form of childhood leukemia—New NCI-sponsored clinical trial results reported today at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago show that, in a high-risk form of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a high-dose schedule of a drug raises already high cure rates even higher.

June 29, 2011 (updated from November 4, 2010)National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) Initial Results: Fast Facts. Fast Facts En español

June 29, 2011The Cancer Genome Atlas completes detailed ovarian cancer analysis—An analysis of genomic changes in ovarian cancer has provided the most comprehensive and integrated view of cancer genes for any cancer type to date. Ovarian serous adenocarcinoma tumors from 500 patients were examined by The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network. TCGA researchers completed whole-exome sequencing, which examines the protein-coding regions of the genome, on an unprecedented 316 tumors.

September, 8, 2011NIH study finds two doses of HPV vaccine may be as protective as full course—Two doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Cervarix were as effective as the current standard three-dose regimen after four years of follow-up/NCI-sponsored Costa Rica Vaccine Trial was designed to assess the efficacy of Cervarix in a community-based setting. View Image | HPV Vaccine En español

January 19, 2012Genetic abnormality predicts benefit from treatment for a rare brain tumor—A clinical trial has shown that addition of chemotherapy to radiation therapy leads to a near doubling of median survival time in patients with a form of brain tumor (oligodendroglioma) that carries a chromosomal abnormality called the 1p19q co-deletion. This abnormality is characterized by the simultaneous deletion of the short arm of chromosome 1 and long arm of chromosome 19. The presence of the chromosomal abnormality was associated with substantially better prognosis and marked improvements in survival in a treatment program of combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy compared to radiation therapy alone. View Image. 

March 2, 2012Heavy exposure to diesel exhaust linked to lung cancer death in miners—In a study of non-metal miners in the United States, federal government scientists reported that heavy exposure to diesel exhaust increased risk of death from lung cancer. The research, all part of the Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study, was designed to evaluate cancer risk from diesel exhaust, particularly as it may relate to lung cancer, among 12,315 workers at eight non-metal mining facilities. Q & A

March 8, 2012U.S. population data show no increase in brain cancer rates during period of expanding cell phone use—In a new examination of United States cancer incidence data, investigators at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reported that incidence trends have remained roughly constant for glioma, the main type of brain cancer hypothesized to be related to cell phone use.

May 21, 2012NIH study finds sigmoidoscopy reduces colorectal cancer rates—Study finds that flexible sigmoidoscopy is effective in reducing the rates of new cases and deaths due to colorectal cancer. Researchers found that overall colorectal cancer mortality was reduced by 26 percent and incidence was reduced by 21 percent as a result of screening with sigmoidoscopy. Q & A | Signoidoscopy En español

August 13, 2012NIH study shows Burkitt lymphoma is molecularly distinct from other lymphomas—Scientists have uncovered a number of molecular signatures in Burkitt lymphoma, including unique genetic alterations that promote cell survival, that are not found in other lymphomas. These findings provide the first genetic evidence that Burkitt lymphoma is a cancer fundamentally distinct from other types of lymphoma.

September 10, 2012TCGA discovers potential therapeutic targets for lung squamous cell carcinoma—After sequencing the genomes of nearly 200 patients, researchers from The Cancer Genome Atlas initiative have identified potential therapeutic targets in lung squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of lung cancer. In the image above, squamous lung cancer subtypes are grouped into four columns. The horizontal rows depict genes identified by TCGA and how they differ by subtype.

September 24, 2012Study reveals genomic similarities between breast and ovarian cancers—A new study from The Cancer Genome Atlas captured a complete view of genomic alterations in breast cancer and classified them into four intrinsic subtypes, one of which shares many genetic features with high-grade serous ovarian cancer. Depicted are breast cancer cells with the HER2 protein, which can trigger cell growth responses, lit up in bright red.

September 27, 2012NIH study uncovers likely role of major cancer protein—Scientists may have discovered why a protein called MYC can provoke a variety of cancers. Like many proteins associated with cancer, MYC helps regulate cell growth. A study carried out by researchers at NIH and colleagues found that, unlike many other cell growth regulators, MYC does not turn genes on or off, but instead boosts the expression of genes that are already turned on.

NCI Legislative Chronology

February 4, 1927—Senator M. M. Neely, of West Virginia, introduced Senate Bill 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 Senate Bill 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 Senate Bill 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 Senate Bill 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 Senate Bill 2067 authorizing the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service to control and prevent the spread of the disease of cancer. It authorizes an annual appropriation of $1 million. Congressman Warren G. Magnuson of Washington introduced an identical bill in the House, House Resolution 6100.

April 29, 1937—Congressman Maury Maverick of Texas introduced House Resolution 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 authorizes an appropriation of $2,400,000 for the first year and $1 million annually thereafter. The legal office of the Public Health Service 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. The Interstate and Foreign Commerce submitted Committee Report No. 1281 to accompany the companion bill House Resolution 7931.

August 5, 1937—The National Cancer Institute Act establishes the National Cancer Institute as the federal government’s principal agency for conducting research and training on the cause, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. The bill also calls upon the NCI to assist and promote similar research at other public and private institutions. An appropriation of $700,000 for each fiscal year is authorized. (P.L. 75-244)

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—The National Cancer Act of 1971 provides 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. (P.L. 92-218)

July 23, 1974—The National Cancer Act Amendments of 1974 aim to improve the National Cancer Program and to authorize appropriations for the next three fiscal years. The bill includes 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 establishes a President's Biomedical Research Panel. (P.L. 93-352)

August 1, 1977— The Health Planning and Health Services Research and Statistics Extension Act contains a provision to extend the NCI mandate for one year. (P.L. 95-83).

November 9, 1978—The Community Mental Health Centers Act amends the National Cancer Act to emphasize education and demonstration programs in cancer treatment and prevention, and stipulates that NCI devote more resources to prevention, focusing particularly on environmental, dietary and occupational cancer causes. (P.L. 95-622)

December 17, 1980—The Health Programs Extension Act of 1980 extends the NCI authorization for 3 years. (P.L. 96-538)

November 20, 1985—The Health Research Extension Act of 1985 affirms the special authorities of NCI and emphasizes the importance of information dissemination to the public. (P.L. 99-158)

November 4, 1988—The Health Research Extension Act of 1988 provides a 2-year extension, which reaffirms the special authorities of NCI and added information dissemination mandates, as well as the 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. (P.L. 100-607)

June 10, 1993—The NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 encourages 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. NCI is also directed to collaborate with the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS), to undertake a case control study to assess biological markers of environmental and other potential risk factors contributing to the incidence of breast cancer in specific counties in the Northeast. In FY 1994, NCI is directed to allocate 7% of its appropriation to cancer control, 9%in FY 1995, and 10%in FY 1996. (P.L. 103-43)

August 13, 1998—The Stamp Out Breast Cancer Act establishes a special alternative rate of postage up to 25% higher than a regular first-class stamp. 70% of the profits from the sale of the stamp, also referred to as a semipostal, would go to the NIH to fund breast cancer research; the remaining 30% would go to the U.S. Department of Defense breast cancer research. (PL 105-41)

July 28, 2000—The Semipostal Authorization Act gives the U.S. Postal Service the authority to issue semipostal stamps, which are sold at a premium in order to help provide funding for a particular area of research. The law also extends the Breast Cancer Stamp Act until July 29, 2002. (P.L. 106-253)

July 10, 2000—The Radiation Exposure Compensation Amendments of 1999 allows more workers who handled radioactive material for weapons programs to be eligible to receive federal compensation for radiation-induced illness. The law expandes 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. (P.L. 106-245)

November 12, 2001—The Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 2002 makes appropriations for the Treasury Department, the U.S. 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 is a provision to reauthorize the Breast Cancer Research Postage Stamp through July 29, 2008. (P.L. 107-67)

January 4, 2002—The Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act is 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. (P.L. 107-109)

May 14, 2002—The Hematologic Cancer Research Investment and Education Act of 2002 directs the NIH Director, through the NCI Director, to conduct and support research on blood cancers. In addition, the CDC is directed to establish and carry out an information and education program. (P.L. 107-172)

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

June 30, 2005—The Patient Navigator Outreach and Chronic Disease Prevention Act of 2005 amends the Public Health Service Act to authorize a demonstration grant program to provide patient navigator services to reduce barriers and improve health care outcomes. The bill directs the HHS Secretary to require each recipient of a grant under this section to use the grant to recruit, assign, train, and employ patient navigators who have direct knowledge of the communities they serve to facilitate the care of individuals who have cancer or other chronic diseases. The bill also directs the HHS Secretary to coordinate with, and ensure the participation of, the Indian Health Service, NCI, the Office of Rural Health Policy, and such other offices and agencies as deemed appropriate by the Secretary, regarding the design and evaluation of the demonstration programs. (P.L. 109-18)

November 11, 2005—The 2-Year Extension of Postage Stamp for Breast Cancer Research extends the U.S. Postal Service's authority to issue special postage stamps to help provide funding for breast cancer research through December 31, 2007. (P.L. 109-100)

January 12, 2007—The Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act of 2005, or "Johanna's Law" directs the HHS Secretary to carry out a national campaign to increase the awareness and knowledge of health care providers and women with respect to gynecologic cancers. (P.L. 109-475)

April 20, 2007—The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 allows states to apply for federal waivers to spend a greater share of funds on hard-to-reach underserved women. This bill authorizes funding up to $275 million by 2012; $201 million is authorized for 2007. (P.L. 110-18)

September 27, 2007—The FDA Amendments Act of 2007 amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to reauthorize the collection of prescription drug user fees for FY2008-FY2012. Requires NIH to expand the clinical trial registry ( and creates a clinical trial results database. (P.L. 110-85)

December 12, 2007—The Breast Cancer Research Stamp Reauthorization Act extends through December 31, 2011, provisions requiring the U.S. Postal Service to issue a special postage stamp which contributes funding to breast cancer research. In addition, it requires the NIH and the U.S. Department of Defense to annually report to Congress and the Government Accountability Office on the use of any such funding, including a description of any significant advances or accomplishments. (P.L. 110-150)

December 31, 2007—The Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act of 2007, or the OPEN Government Act of 2007, amends the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to revise requirements for federal agency disclosures of information requested under that Act. The aim of this bill is to speed up the FOIA process for public access to government documents. (P.L. 110-175)

May 21, 2008—The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2007 prohibits health insurers and employers from requiring genetic testing or from using genetic information in decisions regarding insurance eligibility, coverage or premiums, or hiring, firing, or promotion. On March 5, 2008, the text of this bill, as passed by the House, was included in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. (P.L. 110-233)

May 23, 2008—The Temporary Extension of Programs under the Small Business Act and The Small Business Investment Act of 1958 is intended to temporarily extend the SBIR program authorities of the Small Business Administration through March 20, 2009. The SBIR program authorities were due to expire at the end of 2008. (P.L. 110-235)

July 15, 2008—The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act extends expiring provisions under the Medicare Program, to improve beneficiary access to preventive and mental health services, to enhance low-income benefit programs, and to maintain access to care in rural areas, including pharmacy access, and for other purposes. This bill prevents a 10.6% cut in payments to physicians treating Medicare patients, freezes current payment rates for 18 months, and provides a 1.1% percent increase in 2009. (P.L. 110-275)

July 29, 2008—The Caroline Pryce Walker Childhood Cancer Act of 2007 amends the Public Health Service Act to advance medical research and treatments into pediatric cancers, ensure patients and families have access to the current treatments and information regarding pediatric cancers, establish a population-based national childhood cancer database, and promote public awareness of pediatric cancers. (P.L. 110-287)

October 8, 2008—The Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act of 2007 amends the Public Health Service Act to authorize the Director of the NIEHS to make grants for the development and operation of research centers regarding environmental factors that may be related to the etiology of breast cancer. The bill establishes an Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee within HHS. (P.L. 110-354)

February 4, 2009—The Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 increases the tax on cigarettes by 62 cents to $1.01 per pack and raise taxes on other tobacco products, in order to offset the cost of the program expansion. (P.L. 113-3)

February 17, 2009—The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides $10 billion in additional funding for the NIH; of which NCI received $1.3 billion in Recovery Act funds to be distributed during the two-year span of 2009 and 2010. (P.L. 111-5)

March 30, 2009—The Nevada Cancer Institute Expansion Act provides for the conveyance of the Alta-Hualapai Site to the Nevada Cancer Institute, and for other purposes. (P.L.111-11)

June 21, 2009—The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act provides the FDA with the authority to regulate tobacco products and establishes within the FDA, the Center for Tobacco Products to implement this act. The Act also establishes a Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee to provide advice, information and recommendations to the Secretary of HHS. The Act allows the Secretary of HHS to restrict the sale or distribution and the advertising or promotion of tobacco products, if appropriate for the protection of the public health, and to the full extent permitted by the First Amendment. (P.L. 111-31)

March 23, 2010—The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590), the health care reform bill, establishes a private non-profit institute called the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, obtain and use data from the Federal government, and establish advisory panels to advise on research priorities, among other provisions. The bill requires NIH to conduct research to develop and validate new screening tests for breast cancer. The bill also requires the NIH Director to establish a Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) program, which shall award grants and contracts to eligible entities to accelerate the development of high need cures and therapies, including the development of medical products, drugs or devices, or biological products. (P.L. 111-148)

March 31, 2010—The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act of 2009 prevents tobacco smuggling, ensures the collection of all tobacco taxes, and includes smokeless tobacco as a regulated substance. The bill amends the federal criminal code to treat cigarettes and smokeless tobacco as nonmailable and prohibit such items from being deposited in or carried through the U.S. mail. (P.L.111-154)

December 23, 2011—The Breast Cancer Research Stamp Reauthorization Act reauthorized the issuance of semipostal stamps for breast cancer research, from which NIH receives seventy percent of the profits and the Department of Defense receives 30 percent for their respective breast cancer research activities. These funds are in addition to annual appropriations received, and are authorized through 2015. (P.L. 112-80)

January 2, 2013—The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act of 2012 passed as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The legislation calls for NCI to develop a scientific framework for research on two cancers that have a 5-year relative survival rate of less than 20 percent, and are estimated to cause the death of at least 30,000 individuals in the United States per year. Pancreatic cancer and lung cancer meet these criteria. (P.L. 112-239)

Biographical Sketch of NCI Acting Douglas Lowy, M.D.

Dr. Lowy received his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine at Stanford University and dermatology at Yale University.

His research interests include the biology of papillomaviruses and the regulation of normal and neoplastic cell growth. The papillomavirus research is carried out in close collaboration with Dr. John Schiller, with whom he has co-authored more than 125 papers over the past 30 years.

In the 1980s, Drs. Lowy and Schiller studied the genetic organization of papillomaviruses and identified the oncogenes encoded by the virus. More recently, they have worked on papillomavirus vaccines and the papillomavirus life cycle. Their laboratory was involved in the initial development, characterization, and clinical testing of the preventive virus-like particle-based HPV vaccines that are now used in three FDA-approved HPV vaccines.

Dr. Lowy’s growth regulation research includes prior studies that established the importance of the RAS gene family in cancer and the main mechanisms by which the NF1 tumor suppressor gene regulates normal cell growth. His growth regulation research is now focused primarily on the DLC family of tumor suppressor genes and their mechanism of action.

Dr. Lowy served as NCI Deputy Director from 2010 to 2015. In addition to serving as Acting NCI Director, Dr. Lowy is chief of the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology in NCI’s Center for Cancer Research. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the NAS. Dr. Lowy, along with Dr. Schiller, received the Federal Employee of the Year Service to America Medal from the Partnership for Public Service in 2007, and the Sabin Gold Medal Award from the Sabin Vaccine Institute in 2011. In November 2014, they were honored by President Obama with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

NCI Directors

Name In Office from To
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 June 10, 2006
John E. Niederhuber September 15, 2006 July 12, 2010
Harold Varmus July 12, 2010 March 31, 2015
Douglas R. Lowy (Acting) April 1, 2015 Present

National Cancer Institute Research Programs

The National Cancer Institute leads the National Cancer Program through its operation of research components that provide support for extramural and intramural cancer-related research and through its outreach and collaborations within the cancer community worldwide.

Cancer research is conducted with NCI funding in nearly every state in the United States and more than 20 foreign countries, in addition to research conducted at its own facilities. NCI supports cancer research training, education, and career development, and provides leadership for setting national priorities in cancer research.

NCI Research Components

Center for Cancer Research

The Center for Cancer Research (CCR), the basic and clinical arm of NCI’s intramural research program, is a distinctive and effective community of scientists who integrate basic research discovery with the development of novel interventions against cancer and HIV/AIDS. CCR has infrastructure built upon collaborative networks, a sophisticated clinical program, a focus upon development of technology and partnerships, and value placed upon training and mentorship.

CCR’s leadership promotes a collaborative research environment, which is integral to accelerating progress in basic discovery and clinical research. Focus areas give CCR the flexibility to reassess and respond rapidly to emerging scientific needs, leveraging strengths of experts from diverse fields. Scientific teams are encouraged to pursue high-risk translational research that will have a major impact on health, but may require long-term, continuous support that may be difficult for industry or academia to sustain.

Clinicians in CCR’s Clinical Program work closely with basic scientists to translate discoveries in the laboratory into new therapies and to rapidly move them into clinical trials. CCR’s unique bench-to-bedside—and back—infrastructure gives CCR flexibility to respond rapidly to emerging scientific opportunities in the pursuit of novel treatments, while assuring each patient receives compassionate, cutting-edge care. Researchers also partner with extramural members of the oncology community to stimulate scientific discovery and to move promising new therapies into broader national trials with the ultimate goal of improving clinical practice.

Technology development is an important goal of CCR. Scientific teams already have produced many new drugs and technologies that are improving the lives of Americans and rapidly advancing research. Most recent examples of new drugs include Gardasil and Cervarix, vaccines against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and Kepivance, a drug used to treat mucositis, a complication of some cancer treatments. Through formal partnerships with public and private organizations, CCR accelerates the movement of scientific breakthroughs to the marketplace.

CCR also places an emphasis on training the next generation of investigators in cancer research. Numerous programs are offered to students at various levels of training. In addition, various career development opportunities are available to staff at any career stage from postdoctoral fellowships including clinical training programs to programs aimed to enhance the professional development of experience researchers. These include formal courses in specific science areas, management, and mentoring. CCR also sponsors events that support career growth and provide opportunities to present scientific findings, network, and enhance research skills. In addition, trainees have ready access to mentors with expertise across CCR including investigators, staff scientists, and staff clinicians.

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

Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics

Through its broad 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 value-added 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 genome-wide association studies, biospecimen inventories, family-based studies, a variety of software packages for exposure assessment, and interactive cancer mortality 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 trainees from the predoctoral to postdoctoral stage. 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. Special emphasis is placed on the 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 on cancer etiology and prevention.

The Human Genetics Program provides an expanded focus for interdisciplinary research into the genetic determinants of human cancer. Its branches and laboratory 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; and translate advances in molecular genetics into evidence-based management strategies. The Laboratory of Translational Genomics examines validated regions of the genome associated with cancer risk, laying the groundwork for functional studies to determine the causal variants and biological mechanisms involved. These activities are complemented by the NCI Cancer Genomics Research Laboratory, where genome-wide association studies and next generation sequencing are carried out to uncover the heritable components to cancer.

Fellows in the DCEG Fellowship Program work with world class scientists to explore the causes of cancer and new approaches to its prevention. Predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows carry out, analyze, and publish population, family, and laboratory-based studies. They gain experience in diverse study designs, novel analytic techniques, and genomics and informatics. Professional skills development and preparation for future careers in epidemiology and related areas are an integral part of the program. For more information and to apply, visit our Web site at:

Additional information about DCEG can be found at

Division of Cancer Biology

The Division of Cancer Biology (DCB) supports an extensive, multidisciplinary extramural research program that investigates the basic, cellular, and molecular mechanisms of cancer and the role of biological, hormonal, chemical, and physical agents in the initiation and promotion of cancer. This basic biological research is crucial to building a foundation for cancer research and supporting emerging research areas and technologies. Six Branches and several innovative NCI programs coordinated by the Division's Office of the Director sustain and promote a diverse portfolio of investigator-initiated research grants from academic institutions and research institutes throughout the country and abroad.

The Cancer Cell Biology Branch supports basic research directed at understanding the biological basis for the differences between normal cells and cancer cells, with an emphasis on studies that reveal processes with the potential for therapeutic or preventive intervention. The areas of cancer cell physiology and cancer cell metabolism are also supported by this branch.

The Cancer Etiology Branch supports research programs 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. Key program areas supported by this Branch include HIV and AIDS-associated malignancies and the role of the microbiome in carcinogenesis.

The Cancer Immunology and Hematology Branch supports basic research in tumor immunology and the biology, biochemistry, and molecular biology of the hematologic malignancies (leukemias, lymphomas, and multiple myeloma), including the role of tumor stem cells in the maintenance and progression of these malignancies.

The DNA and Chromosome Aberrations Branch supports research that emphasizes cancer genetics, epigenetics, and genomic studies at the DNA and chromosome level, including mechanisms of DNA damage/repair and related molecular, cytogenetic, and chromosomal effects during induction and progression to malignancy.

The Structural Biology and Molecular Applications Branch (SBMAB) supports cancer research and discovery in three broad areas: technology development and molecular applications, biophysical biology, and computational/mathematical methods and bioinformatics development. The branch also supports integrated and systems biology approaches to 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 cancer development and proliferation.

The NCI-Mouse Models of Human Cancers Consortium (NCI-MMHCC) promotes effective integration of mouse models and mouse genetics resources into basic and translational cancer research. Included are pre-clinical and co-clinical projects, new strategies for early detection, interventions, and risk assessment, and agnostic discovery of multi-factorial effectors of cancer susceptibility. Information resources are available at

The Integrative Cancer Biology Program (ICBP) supports twelve “Centers for Cancer Systems Biology (CCSB)” investigating the development and progression of cancer through a systems approach to the study of the disease. An integrative and multi-disciplinary effort among all fields of cancer research is applied to the analysis of cancer as a complex biological system, incorporating a spectrum of new technologies such as genomics, proteomics, and molecular imaging to generate computer and mathematical models that can predict the cancer process. 

The Tumor Microenvironment Network (TMEN) focuses on expanding our understanding of the role of the tumor microenvironment in cancer initiation, progression, and metastases. Supported research focuses on the mechanisms of tumor-stroma interactions in cancer, the identification of tumor and stromal stem cells and their role in stem cell-stroma interactions, and the role of microenvironment alterations as well as inflammatory and immune cells in tumor development, progression, and metastasis. 

The Barrett's Esophagus Translational Research Network (BETRNet) is a trans-divisional NCI program that is supported by the Division of Cancer Biology and the Division of Cancer Prevention. The objectives of BETRNet are to improve understanding of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA) biology, support research associated with EA’s precursor lesion Barrett’s Esophagus, and improve EA risk stratification, prediction, and prevention.

In addition, the Division sponsors several resources for cancer researchers including bioinformatics tools for analyzing data, such as a state-of-the-art X-ray crystallography experimental facility funded through the GM/CA CAT Project, and data and specimen repositories such as The Chernobyl Tissue bank and the NCI Mouse Repository.

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

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 comprises 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 comprises the Basic Biobehavioral and Psychological Sciences Branch, Health Behaviors Research Branch, Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch, Process of Care Research Branch, Science of Research and Technology Branch, and Tobacco Control Research Branch.

The Epidemiology and Genomics 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 Methods and Technologies Branch, the Modifiable Risk Factors Branch, the Host Susceptibility Factors Branch, and the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology 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 (SEER) Program, 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 Data Analysis and Interpretation Branch, Data Modeling Branch, Statistical Methodology and Applications Branch, and Surveillance Systems Branch.

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

Division of Cancer Prevention

The Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP) is the primary NCI unit devoted to cancer prevention research. DCP works through 10 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 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 (CCOP). Local medical facilities known as CCOPs promote interaction between community oncologists and clinical cooperative groups by allowing local physicians to participate in NCI-sponsored treatment, prevention, and symptom management clinical trials. NCI's large-scale prevention trials are coordinated through the CCOP program, which also funds quality of life and palliative care research.

The Nutritional Science Research Group generates and tests hypotheses relating diet to the causation and prevention of cancer. It also 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 may benefit from a prevention intervention.

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 scientists supports 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 have been coordinated through this program, including the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial and the National Lung Screening Trial.

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 4 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. These groups support 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.

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

Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis

The Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis (DCTD) takes prospective detection and treatment leads, facilitates their paths to clinical application, and expedites the initial and subsequent large-scale testing of new agents and interventions in patients.

DCTD has 8 major programs that work together to bring unique molecules from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside:

The Cancer Diagnosis Program stimulates, coordinates, and funds research on diagnostics and improved technologies to better characterize tumors and/or guide treatment decisions, as well as specimen resources, databases related to those specimens, overarching biospecimen-related policies, practices, biospecimen research, and other related issues.

The Cancer Imaging Program expands the role of imaging in noninvasive diagnosis, identification of disease subsets in patients, disease staging, image-guided treatment, and treatment monitoring.

The Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program functions as NCI's primary clinical evaluator of new anticancer agents, radiation treatments, and surgical methods. The program administers the 11 cooperative research groups that unite researchers around the nation and the world in the pursuit of distinctive and effective new treatments for cancer.

The Developmental Therapeutics Program serves as a vital resource in discovering potential cancer therapeutics and acquiring preclinical development information. The program provides research materials and manufactures new agents in bulk quantities for use in investigational new drug (IND)-directed studies.

The Radiation Research Program provides expertise to investigators who perform novel radiotherapy research and assists in establishing future radiation research directions.

The Translational Research Program supports multi-disciplinary, collaborative, organ-based research aimed at translating laboratory findings to the clinic and determining the biological basis of clinical observations to improve the practice of oncology. This is achieved primarily through the Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant mechanism.

The Biometrics Research Branch provides state-of-the-art statistical and biomathematical analyses for DCTD and other NCI components.

The Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine aims to increase the amount of high-quality cancer research and information about the use of complementary and alternative modalities.

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

Division of Extramural Activities

The Division of Extramural Activities (DEA) is responsible for providing guidance to potential cancer research grant applicants, coordinating and assisting in the development of NCI's extramural funding initiatives, referring applications to appropriate programs, providing scientific peer review and oversight of NCI's extramural research, coordinating advisory committees including the National Cancer Advisory Board and the Board of Scientific Advisors, establishing policies and procedures for extramural research, research integrity, and grant applications, managing extramural staff training and career development, and coding and tracking NCI's research portfolio.

DEA staff members serve as chief NCI liaisons to the extramural cancer research community, processing approximately 12,000 grant applications for referral and recruiting thousands of scientific experts to review about 3,000 grants per year. The DEA's Committee Management Office handles the complex preparation and logistics required for NCI's advisory groups to function productively and for the HHS Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health, and Society to act in its prescribed role.

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

Center for Cancer Genomics

NCI established the Center for Cancer Genomics (CCG) in 2011 to develop and apply genome science to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients. The CCG promotes collaborations of national and international agencies, academic researchers, and community physicians to foster research based on genomes, gene expression, proteomics, and other technologies to usher in a modern era of integrated and individualized prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer, all whilst ensuring responsible use of genetic information. Through research on the structure and function of the molecular make-up of human tumor cells and the human genome, researchers funded by CCG have identified many genes involved in cancer that are informing knowledge of biologic function, drug development, and DNA-based diagnostics. CCG initiatives include:

The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), which is a joint initiative of NCI and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). TCGA is currently collecting and analyzing thousands of samples—as many as several hundred for each of more than 20 different cancers—to identify genetic and epigenetic features that drive the initiation and progression of cancer. The data are made available to qualified researchers;

Cancer Target Discovery and Development (CTD²) Network, which aims to identify and characterize potential targets for cancer therapy as well as diagnostic, prognostic, and drug response markers; and

Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments (TARGET), which aims to identify genetic markers in childhood cancers that can accelerate the development of new therapies, as well as distinguish at the time of diagnosis which patients may respond to either standard treatment or novel targeted therapies.

Center for Cancer Training

NCI's Center for Cancer Training, established in July 2008, is committed to catalyzing the development of a 21st century workforce capable of advancing cancer research through a scientifically integrated approach. This is accomplished by:

  • Coordinating and providing research training and career development activities for fellows and trainees at NCI's laboratories, clinics, and other research groups
  • Developing, coordinating, and implementing opportunities for support of cancer research training, career development, and education at institutions nationwide
  • Identifying workforce needs in cancer research and adapting NCI's training and career development programs and funding opportunities to address these needs.

The Center for Cancer Training comprises 3 intramural training programs—NCI's Center for Cancer Research Office of Training and Education, NCI's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics Fellowship Office, and NCI's Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program—and NCI's extramural Cancer Training Branch.

Additional information is available at

Office of Cancer Genomics—The Office of Cancer Genomics (OCG) continues a history of informing and enabling an in-depth understanding of the molecular mechanisms of cancer through the support of innovative programs to produce needed data and tools in the area of genomics. The ultimate goal of all of these over-arching initiatives is to advance the areas of prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. OCG provides a focus for scientific programs in genomics that are designed to build an interface between genomic and applied cancer research through the establishment of accessible research tools including clones, databases and informatics.

Office of Cancer Clinical Proteomics Research—The Office of Cancer Clinical Proteomics Research (OCPR) accelerates the use of proteomic-based technologies in cancer research through its technology-driven initiatives, collaborations with other government programs, and engagement with the private sector. OCCPR also facilitates the building of an integrated foundation of proteomic technologies, data, reagents and reference materials, and analysis systems to systematically advance the application of protein science to accelerate discovery and translation of biomarkers in clinical cancer research. The Office develops and manages extramural sciences programs, including the NCI Clinical Proteomic Technologies for Cancer and collaborates with both intramural research programs and other agencies.

Office of Cancer Nanotechnology Research—The Office of Cancer Nanotechnology Research develops strategies, and implements and manages extramural science and technology programs, including the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer initiative, to leverage the use of nanotechnologies in fundamental studies of cancer biology, early diagnostics and imaging of the disease, and improvement of cancer treatment and care. It also promotes standardization and translation of the developed technologies to the clinic through collaborations with NCI programs, both extramural and intramural, as well as through joint efforts with regulatory agencies (U.S. Food and Drug Administration/National Institute of Standards and Technology), including the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory.

Office of Physical Sciences-Oncology—The Office of Physical Sciences-Oncology provides a needed interconnection to facilitate the translation and incorporation of physical sciences approaches to cancer research across the NCI, NIH, and interagency activities. One of the first initiatives being pursued is the establishment of a network of physical sciences-oncology centers. These centers will enable the convergence of physics, chemistry, mathematics and engineering with existing disciplines in cancer research by building trans-disciplinary teams and infrastructure to generate new knowledge and paradigm-shifting science. The ultimate goal of these centers and the branch is to catalyze new fields of study in basic and clinical cancer research by utilizing physical sciences/engineering principles to enable a better understanding of the disease at all length scales, which may lead to exponential progress against the way we treat and diagnose cancer.

The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Program Office—The TCGA Program Office serves as the primary office for the management of the TCGA Program, a highly visible, national collaborative initiative between the NCI and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) to chart the complex pathways involved in more than 20 cancers. The Office provides oversight of of the TCGA pipeline including data generation; tissue accrual; biospecimens collection, quality and distribution; informatics through management of several data generation cooperative agreements; NCI-funded contracts for dedicated TCGA biospecimens procurement; data coordination contracts; and data analysis cooperative agreements. The TCGA Program Office also supports the development and dissemination of genomics information, technology, methods, informatics tools, and reagents to serve the needs of the cancer research community.

Center for Global Health

Established in 2011, the Center for Global Health (CGH) serves as the focal point for all global health activities within NCI. The CGH leads the development of global cancer research priorities; provides strategic vision to the global cancer community and pursues strategies directed towards control of cancer on a global scale; conducts and supports international cancer research, training, health information dissemination, and other relevant biomedical research programs; and coordinates collaborations and partnerships with other agencies and organizations engaged in efforts to improve global health.

Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives

The NCI Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives (CSSI) focuses on emerging scientific discoveries and innovative technologies that uniquely impact the full spectrum of cancer research and clinical control. The Center is tasked with planning, developing, executing, and implementing rapid strategic scientific and technology initiatives that keep the Institute ahead of the scientific curve with respect to potential new areas and discoveries. CSSI leverages the full flexibility of available federal mechanisms for the development and application of advanced technologies, synergy of large scale and individual initiated research, and/or forging novel partnerships that emphasize innovation, trans-disciplinary teams and convergence of scientific disciplines. With an emphasis on complementing the scientific efforts of the Institute’s standing Divisions, the Center’s efforts seek to enable the translation of discoveries into new interventions, both domestically and in the international arena, to prevent, detect, diagnose and treat cancer more effectively.

The offices within CSSI are focused on foundational technology-based areas such as the intersection of physical sciences and oncology, proteomics and nanotechnology. The programs in these offices build databases, knowledge, tools and extramural trans-disciplinary scientific teams to promote the themes of the Center.

The Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives Office of the Director (CSSI OD) is responsible for providing oversight and coordination of scientific and programmatic activities for its offices and their programs in order to effectively carry out the mission of CSSI. This includes facilitating extensive reviews and approvals from the NCI Scientific Program Leaders, the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors, and the National Cancer Advisory Board. CSSI OD also oversees programmatic management of two grant programs, the NCI’s Provocative Questions (PQ) Initiative and the Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies (IMAT) Program. The objective of the PQ Initiative is to stimulate specific areas of cancer research that have been deemed understudied, neglected, paradoxical, or difficult to address in the past. The mission of the IMAT program is to support the development, maturation, and dissemination of novel and potentially transformative next-generation technologies through an approach of balanced but targeted innovation in support of clinical, laboratory, or epidemiological research on cancer. Both of these programs function as trans-divisional, highly collaborative efforts that span multiple disciplines in cancer research to most effectively achieve their goals.

The Office of Cancer Clinical Proteomics Research (OCCPR) facilitates the building of an integrated foundation of proteomic technologies, open-data policy, reagents and reference materials, and analysis systems to systematically advance our understanding of cancer biology. The Office manages extramural science programs, including the Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC), and builds partnerships with public-private sectors to further the application of protein science. CPTAC represents a network of Proteome Characterization Centers, which coordinate research approaches and data sharing efforts in order to comprehensively interrogate the protein component of genomically characterized cancer biospecimens, linking cancer genome to cancer phenotype via the understanding of cancer proteome. While genes are the "recipes" of the cell containing all of the instructions for making molecules called proteins and helping with their assembly, proteins and their modifications by other cellular components, the products of these recipes by tightly controlled mechanisms of transcription and translation, serve as the "engines" to carry out cellular functions and drive both normal and disease physiology.

The Office of Cancer Nanotechnology Research (OCNR) develops strategies to leverage advances in nanotechnology for applications in basic and clinical cancer research. Office activities include support and management of extramural science and technology programs, such as the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer initiative, and coordinating efforts to further clinical development of nanotechnology. These efforts include TONIC (Translation of Nanotechnology in Cancer), a consortium of pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology firms and academic researchers, and the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL). NCL develops and promotes standards and protocols for the characterization of nanomaterials intended for clinical use, in collaboration with U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The Office of Physical Sciences—Oncology (OPSO) provides a needed interconnection to facilitate the convergence of physical sciences and cancer research perspectives across the NCI, NIH, and through interagency activities. The NCI Physical Sciences – Oncology Centers (PS-OC) Program, launched in 2009, consists of a Network of 12 Centers nationwide. These centers will enable the integration of physics, chemistry, mathematics and engineering with existing disciplines in cancer research by building transdisciplinary teams and infrastructure to generate new knowledge and paradigm-shifting science. The ultimate goal of these centers and the office is to catalyze new fields of study in basic and clinical cancer research by utilizing physical sciences/engineering principles to enable a better understanding of the disease at all length scales, which may lead to exponential progress against the way we treat and diagnose cancer. Interagency activities include OPSO co-funding transdisciplinary cancer research with the National Science Foundation in 2011 and 2012 via the Physical/LIfe sciences Early-stage Research (PLIER) awards (also known as Physical and Engineering Sciences in Oncology (PESO) awards).

Additional information about CSSI can be found at

Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities

The Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) is the cornerstone of NCI's efforts to reduce the unequal burden of cancer in racially/ethnically diverse, and other underserved populations. The Center supports a broad range of studies in basic, genomic, translational, community- and population-based research focused on understanding the biological and non-biological roots of cancer health disparities.

CRCHD’s roots lie in its community-based participatory research (CBPR) paradigm and programs, including the Community Networks Program (CNP) and its expanded successor, Community Networks Program Centers (CNPC). CNPC is designed to significantly improve access to and use of beneficial interventions in communities experiencing a greater burden of cancer. CBPR investigators employ a unique approach to examining and reducing cancer health disparities by actively engaging communities in the research process. Local community agencies, in collaboration with trained researchers, participate in all aspects of research, training, and outreach, including helping to define their community’s particular problems that lead to disparities, and designing solutions that are culturally sensitive to their needs.

CRCHD is also dedicated to training a cancer research workforce that reflects an increasingly diverse America. In providing a smoother path towards careers in biomedical science, the Center is attracting and engaging the nation’s most talented students from underrepresented populations, who otherwise are at risk of being lost from the training pipeline. Their diverse perspectives are critical in ensuring that the science conducted addresses the health needs of all people. CRCHD offers two innovative and comprehensive diversity training programs—the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) and Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (PACHE) (formerly known as the Minority Institution/Cancer Center Partnership Program [MI/CCP]). CURE introduces promising racially/ethnically diverse and other underrepresented students, researchers, and faculty to cancer research and provides them with a continuum of competitive training and career development opportunities leading to successful careers as independent cancer investigators. The CURE program offers full funding to protect research time, incorporates important mentoring relationships with advanced researchers, and includes valuable networking opportunities. PACHE was developed to help expand high-level training opportunities available to CURE trainees. The program focuses on creating long-term and mutually beneficial partnerships between NCI-designated Cancer Centers and academic institutions serving racially/ethnically diverse communities. These partnerships enhance cancer research, and diversity training and career development opportunities, as well as expand outreach to underserved communities.

In addition, CRCHD supports basic research, which focuses on increasing our understanding of the biological determinants of cancer health disparities in racially/ethnically diverse populations. Biological variations, either naturally or in conjunction with environmental exposures, may lead to differences in susceptibility to cancers and therapeutic responsiveness. This broader research view allows a more complex picture of the biological, behavioral, and socioeconomic roots of cancer disparities, and sets the stage for better-targeted, more precise interventions and community outreach. Basic scientists are integrated into CRCHD’s PACHE and CURE programs, which offer an array of cancer research training opportunities for individuals from underrepresented populations.

CRCHD promotes a multidisciplinary, team-based paradigm for understanding and reducing cancer health disparities. The Geographical Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program including Biospecimen Science (G/BMaP) is a national strategy that links CRCHD’s flagship initiatives—PACHE, CNPC, and CURE—within six regional, disparities-focused networks for cancer health disparities research, diversity training, and resource-sharing infrastructure. The National Outreach Network (NON) is a strategy that bridges NCI-supported outreach and community education efforts with cancer health disparities research and diversity training programs by stimulating linkages among NCI, grantee institutions, researchers, and communities. CRCHD is also undertaking a collaborative initiative with the NCI Community Cancer Centers Program (NCCCP), which involves providing technical support to NCCCP’s health disparities efforts.

For more information about CRCHD, its programs, and cancer health disparities, visit

Office of HIV and AIDS Malignancy

The Office of HIV and AIDS Malignancy (OHAM) is an office within NCI's Office of the Director. OHAM has responsibility for broad oversight of HIV/AIDS and HIV malignancy research throughout NCI. OHAM coordinates and prioritizes NCI research in HIV/AIDS and HIV malignancy and also directly initiates and manages certain research programs. OHAM interfaces with the NIH Office of AIDS Research and other NIH Institutes and Centers to effectively coordinate the HIV/AIDS research effort.

SBIR Development Center

The SBIR Development Center manages the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs at the NCI. These programs are NCI's engine of innovation for developing and commercializing novel technologies and products to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. A range of funding opportunities is offered to the small business community. The Center offers advice for applicants and fosters partnerships and collaborations between small businesses and third-party organizations. In addition, the Center serves as a mentor to SBIR-funded companies regarding their technology development plans, and their regulatory and commercialization strategies, helping to accelerate the development of novel technologies and products. The primary goal of these efforts is to enhance the return on investment of the SBIR program for the benefit of the cancer community and public health in general. SBIR and STTR serve as two of the largest sources of early stage technology financing in the United States.

For more information on the SBIR and STTR Programs, visit

Office of Cancer Centers

The Cancer Centers Program within NCI's Office of the Director supports 57 NCI-designated Cancer Centers nationwide that are actively engaged in transdisciplinary research to reduce cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality.

These NCI-designated Cancer Centers are a major source of discovery of the nature of cancer and of the development of more effective approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and therapy. They also deliver medical advances to patients and their families, educate health-care professionals and the public, and reach out to underserved populations. They are characterized by strong organizational capabilities, institutional commitment, and trans-disciplinary, cancer-focused science; experienced scientific and administrative leadership, and state-of-the-art cancer research and patient care facilities.

NCI-designated Cancer Centers are funded through the P30 Cancer Center Support Grant. These awards fund formal research programs that foster interactions between basic laboratory, clinical, and population scientists; access for investigators to shared services and technologies that are necessary to their research efforts; and other scientific infrastructure.

Additional information can be found at

Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research

The Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) operated by SAIC-Frederick, Inc., for the National Cancer Institute. The lab provides quick response capabilities and meets special long-term research and development needs for NCI. The FFRDC also supports other institutes of NIH and a wide range of research collaborations and partnerships with third parties, consistent with NCI’s mission. Activities include building cross-disciplinary collaborations and teams, bridging the gap between late discovery and early development of diagnostics and therapeutics, developing cross-cutting technology platforms, and developing data standards. The overarching goal is to accelerate treatments for cancer and AIDS patients.

FNLCR has advanced technologies and innovative platforms that support NCI’s mission, from basic research to translational and clinical studies. These include:

  • Cancer Model Development
  • Genetics and Genomics
  • Proteins and Proteomics
  • Clinical Assay Development
  • Nanotechnology Characterization
  • High-Performance Biomedical Computing
  • Advanced Biomedical Imaging

Additional information is available at

This page last reviewed on January 30, 2017