National Cancer Institute (NCI)


The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the federal government's principal agency for cancer research and training. Established under the National Cancer Institute Act of 1937, NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of 11 agencies that make up the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

NCI’s mission is to lead, conduct, and support cancer research across the nation to advance scientific knowledge and help all people live longer, healthier lives.

As the leader of the cancer research enterprise, collectively known as the National Cancer Program, and the largest funder of cancer research in the world, NCI manages a broad range of research, training, and information dissemination activities that reach across the entire country, meeting the needs of all demographics—rich and poor, urban and rural, and all racial/ethnic populations. Specifically, NCI focuses on two broad roles:

Cancer Research

  • Leads the nation’s research efforts to improve cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and survivorship
  • Supports 72 NCI-Designated Cancer Centers and more than 5,000 grantees
  • Coordinates and supports all phases of clinical trials across 2,500 clinical trial sites nationwide, seeking the development of new and improved cancer treatments
  • Supports intramural research scientists in our own laboratories and clinics
  • Partners with industry, private philanthropic organizations, other federal agencies, and other national and foreign institutions to engage in cancer research and training opportunities that otherwise might not be possible because of their complexity and cost
  • Collaborates with private-sector life sciences companies to advance promising innovative technologies that fuel improvements in detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer
  • Supports the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, the only federally funded research and development center dedicated exclusively to biomedical research
  • Maintains long-term storage of publicly available cancer genomic and clinical data
  • Supports construction of laboratories, clinics, and related facilities for cancer research

Training and Support for Cancer Researchers

  • Strives to attract, train, and retain the best minds to become the next generation of cancer researchers
  • Provides support to scientists and their institutions to create outstanding environments for researchers to train, conduct basic and clinical research, and care for cancer patients
  • Funds training and career development opportunities across a broad spectrum of cancer research disciplines through training grants, fellowships, research career development awards, and research education grants
  • Supports targeted cancer research training for individuals from backgrounds underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences to achieve and sustain a diverse workforce
  • Provides comprehensive training programs that support the needs of qualified individuals at all stages of their career development, ranging from middle-school students to independent researchers
  • Offers training opportunities centered in hospitals and research institutions across the nation, in addition to intramural training programs offered at NCI laboratories and offices in Maryland

As a federal agency, NCI receives its funds from Congress. The bulk of our budget supports extramural grants and cooperative agreements to facilitate research conducted at universities, medical schools, hospitals, cancer centers, research laboratories, and private firms in the United States and abroad. These funds also support intramural research at NCI’s laboratories and offices in Bethesda, Rockville, and Frederick, MD.

Our investments have led to declines in the rates of new cancer cases and cancer deaths overall in the last few decades in the United States. In line with this improvement, the number of cancer survivors in the United States has more than doubled from 7 million in 1992 to more than 15 million in 2016—and is expected to rise to more than 26 million by 2040. These trends reflect advances in cancer detection, diagnosis, and patient care that have resulted in people living longer, healthier lives than ever before.

For additional information about NCI and recent cancer research findings, visit the NCI web site.

Important Events in NCI History

August 5, 1937—The National Cancer Institute (NCI) was established through the National Cancer Act of 1937, signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Its passage represented the culmination of nearly three decades of efforts to formalize the U.S. government’s place in cancer research. The act represents the first time that Congress provided funding to address a non-communicable disease. The act created NCI as an independent research institute within the Public Health Service. NCI became the federal government’s principal agency for conducting research and training on the cause, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

NCI was tasked with assisting and promoting cancer research at other public and private institutions, particularly by providing funding opportunities to support promising cancer research. The act established the National Advisory Cancer Council, now known as the National Cancer Advisory Board, which recommended approval of first award for fellowships in cancer research shortly thereafter.

August 1940—The first issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute was published.

July 1, 1946—The cancer control program was established, providing grants to the states for support of cancer control activities.

July 2, 1953—NCI inaugurated a full-scale clinical research program in the new Clinical Center.

1955—NCI established the Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Program which included several research networks, called cooperative groups, that conduct cancer clinical research primarily under the sponsorship of NCI.

1957—The first malignancy (choriocarcinoma) was cured with chemotherapy at NCI.

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.

October 25, 1962—The Human Cancer Virus Task Force held its first meeting. The task force, comprised of scientists from NCI and other institutions, stimulated the development of special programs in viral oncology.

February 13, 1967—NCI, in collaboration with the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital, established the Baltimore Cancer Research Center to conduct basic and clinical research for cancer treatment and offer training to medical students and scientists.

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. The act represented the U.S. commitment to what President Nixon described as the “war on cancer,” which, by 1970, had become the nation’s second leading cause of death. The act granted authority to the Director of NCI to plan and develop a National Cancer Program that included NCI, other research institutes, and other federal and non-federal programs. It established the procedure for submitting NCI’s annual budget, called the “bypass budget,” which is transmitted directly from the NCI director to the President and Congress. The act also required the creation of a new National Cancer Advisory Board, a presidentially appointed committee of 18 members, to assist NCI in developing its programs. It also established the President’s Cancer Panel, a three-member panel that submits an annual report to the President and holds periodic public hearings. Finally, the act provided additional funding for NCI to establish 15 new cancer research centers, local cancer control programs, and an international cancer research data bank.

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.

June 20, 1973—NCI director Dr. Frank J. Rauscher, Jr., announced that eight institutions were recognized as Comprehensive Cancer Centers to bring results of research as rapidly as possible to a maximum number of people. (In 2017, there are 69 NCI designated cancer centers.)

September 12, 1974—NCI made its first cancer control awards to state health departments for a three-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 Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research was established as the Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center in 1972 when about 70 acres and 67 buildings of the U.S. Army were transferred to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Since then, Frederick National Lab has become an internationally recognized center of scientific excellence in cancer and AIDS research and development.

Shortly thereafter, The National Science Foundation notified HHS that NCI-Frederick met the criteria for and was designated as a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), a government-owned, contractor-operated facility designed to achieve long-term research and development needs that could not be met as effectively by existing in-house or contractor resources.

1975—The Cooperative Minority Biomedical Program, as approved by the National Cancer Advisory Board, represented a co-funding effort by NCI to implement and foster cancer research through NIH's Division of Research Resources' Minority Biomedical Research Support Program and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences Minority Access to Research Careers Program.

July 1, 1975—The Cancer Information Service was established following a 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 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, leading to his role in the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the infectious agent responsible for acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and in the development of the HIV blood test. He has been a major contributor to subsequent HIV research.

July 18, 1979—NCI and the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., signed an agreement to cooperate in a cancer treatment research program.

April 27, 1981—A new Biological Response Modifiers Program was established in the Division of Cancer Treatment to investigate, develop and bring to clinical trial potential therapeutic agents that may alter biological responses that are important in cancer growth and metastasis.

September 1982—PDQ (or Physician Data Query), a computerized database on cancer treatment information, became available nationwide through the National Library of Medicine's MEDLARS system.

December 16, 1982—NCI purchased a building adjacent to the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, through generous donations to the NCI Gift Fund. This building housed 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 (Physician Data Query, NCI's comprehensive source of cancer information).

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.

1984—A policy statement regarding the relationship of NCI, the pharmaceutical industry, and NCI-supported cooperative groups was developed. The statement conveys the need for collaboration between NCI and the pharmaceutical industry in pursuing the joint development of anticancer drugs of mutual interest.

March 6, 1984—HHS Secretary Margaret M. Heckler launched a new Cancer Prevention Awareness Program aimed at saving 95,000 lives per year by the year 2000. The program, guided by NCI, will inform the public about cancer risks and steps individuals can take to reduce risk.

April 1984—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 (CPFP), one of the first formal postdoctoral research training programs in cancer prevention, began. CPFP provides state-of-the-art training in cancer prevention and control through mentored research at NCI, guiding each fellow to develop an independent research program in cancer prevention.

October 24, 1987—The Office of Technology Development was established in the Office of the Director to guide implementation of legislation, rules and regulations, and activities relating to collaborative agreements, inventions, patents, royalties, and associated matters.

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—focused their efforts on cancer prevention, control, epidemiology, and clinical trials.

April 1989—NCI increased efforts to supplement research grants to encourage recruitment of minority scientists and science students into extramural research laboratories. This initiative is expanded to include scientists and science students who are women or individuals 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 had been added.

December 20, 1989—NCI researchers published the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Model, a tool to estimate a woman's risk of developing invasive breast cancer, based on data from case-control studies and breast cancer incidence rates in the US. Over the years, the tool has been updated and expanded to cover African Americans and other groups; it is widely used by clinicians and researchers. Originally available on a floppy disk, the tool was later renamed and made available online as the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool. The US Food and Drug Administration guidelines for use of tamoxifen and raloxifene for breast cancer risk reduction rely on estimates generated by the tool. It is also used for patient counseling and for assessing possible public health prevention strategies.

September 14, 1990—Scientists from NCI and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute announced the first trial in which a copy of a faulty gene was inserted into white blood cells to reverse the immune deficiency it caused. The trial was initiated to treat adenosine deaminase deficiency. This was the first human gene therapy trial used to treat immunodeficiency.

January 29, 1991—Patients with melanoma were treated with tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes to which a gene for tumor necrosis factor had been added. This was the first human gene therapy trial used to treat cancer.

October 1991—NCI began the 5 A Day program, in partnership with the nonprofit group Produce for Better Health, to encourage Americans to eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day.

1992—NCI established the Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE). The NCI Translational Research Program (TRP) is the home of SPORE and a cornerstone of NCI’s efforts to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary translational cancer research. SPORE grants involve both basic and clinical/applied science, and support projects that will result in new and diverse approaches to the prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of human cancers.

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 was not responsive to 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. This collaboration was 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.

November 1996—Cancer mortality rates declined nearly 3% between 1991 and 1995. This was the first sustained decline since national recordkeeping was instituted in the 1930s.

1996—The NCI Office of Liaison Activities was established to ensure that cancer research advocates have input concerning NCI research and related activities. The office, now called the Office of Advocacy Relations, supports NCI's research and programs by fostering strong communications and partnerships with the cancer advocacy community and professional societies.

August 1, 1997—NCI, in partnership with government, academic, and industrial laboratories, launched the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project 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.

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 potentially be prevented.

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 (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.

December 8, 1999—NCI published the 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.

April 6, 2000—A $60 million program was announced to address the unequal burden of cancer within certain populations in the United States over the next 5 years. The Special Populations Networks for Cancer Awareness Research and Training is intended to build relationships between large research institutions and community-based programs. Eighteen grants at 17 institutions are expected to create or implement cancer control, prevention, research, and training programs in minority and underserved populations.

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—As part of a national commitment to identify and address the underlying causes of disease and disability in racial and ethnic communities, NCI established the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. 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.

May 10, 2001—FDA approval of the drug Gleevec, also known as STI571, is announced as an oral treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia. 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 expanded as investigators tested Gleevec in a variety of cancers that share common molecular abnormalities.

July 24, 2001—The largest-ever prostate cancer prevention study was launched by NCI and a network of researchers known as the Southwest Oncology Group. The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial is designed to determine if these two dietary supplements can protect against prostate cancer which is the most common form of non-skin cancer in men. The study is expected to include a total of 32,400 men.

September 4, 2001—NCI and the American College of Radiology Imaging Network launched 3-year multicenter study of digital mammography, called the Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial, 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 program—a landmark initiative convening a network of 200 dedicated advocates who bring the viewpoint of those affected by cancer to NCI.

February 7, 2002—Scientists from NCI and FDA reported that patterns of proteins found in patients' blood 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 five years. This new diagnostic concept is potentially applicable to the diagnosis of other diseases.

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

June 19, 2002—NCI scientists used microarray technology to determine the patterns of genes that are active in tumor cells from which they could predict whether patients with the most common form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in adults are likely to be cured by chemotherapy.

July 16, 2002—The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of NIH stopped a major clinical trial early of the risks and benefits of combined estrogen and progestin in healthy menopausal women due to an increased risk of invasive breast cancer. The large multi-center trial, a component of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), also found increases in coronary heart disease, stroke, and pulmonary embolism in study participants on estrogen plus progestin compared to women taking placebo pills. The 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.

September 18, 2002—NCI launched the National Lung Screening Trial to compare spiral computed tomography and single-view chest x-ray for early lung cancer in 50,000 current and former heavy smokers. The trial will examine the relative risks and benefits of both tests at 30 study sites throughout the United States.

September 19, 2002—NCI researchers demonstrated that a new approach to cancer treatment, that replaces a patient's immune system with cancer-fighting cells produced in the laboratory specifically to destroy their tumors, can lead to tumor shrinkage. 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—NCI and FDA scientists found that patterns of proteins in patients' blood, called prostate-specific antigen (PSA), may help distinguish between prostate cancer and benign prostate conditions. PSA is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. The blood level of PSA is often elevated in men with prostate cancer. The technique may be useful in deciding whether to perform a biopsy in men with elevated levels of PSA.

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

2003—A novel approach to treatment of solid cancers involves therapeutic agents that inhibit the generation of new blood vessels in growing tumors (angiogenesis).

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

May 30, 2003—Overseen by an Interagency Oncology Task Force (IOTF), FDA and NCI entered into an agreement to share knowledge and resources to facilitate the development of new cancer drugs and speed their delivery to patients. The goal of the IOTF is to leverage the expertise and capabilities of both agencies to streamline and accelerate the overall development of diagnostic, preventive, and therapeutic interventions for cancer.

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. 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.

September 2, 2003—Death rates from the four most common cancers—lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal—continued to decline in the late 1990s according to data from the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2000. This report provides an annual update of cancer incidence, mortality, and trends in the United States. NCI has partnered with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Cancer Society, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries on the report since 1998.

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.

September 13, 2004—NCI announced the Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, a five-year initiative to integrate nanotechnology development into basic and applied cancer research to facilitate the rapid application of this science to the clinic. Nanotechnology is a field of research that deals with the engineering and creation of things from materials that are less than 100 nanometers (one-billionth of a meter) in size, especially single atoms or molecules. Nanotechnology offers the means to target treatments directly and selectively to cancerous cells and neoplasms.

December 10, 2004—According to research supported by NCI, and performed in collaboration with the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project and Genomic Health Inc., a new molecular test can predict the risk of breast cancer recurrence and may identify women who will benefit most from chemotherapy.

February 16, 2005—In preparation for the new generation of molecular-based oncology medical products and as an initiative of NCI’s and FDA's Interagency Oncology Task Force, the agencies jointly established an NCI-FDA Research and Regulatory Review Fellowship program, designed to train researchers to bridge the processes from scientific discovery through clinical development and regulatory review of new oncology products.

April 25, 2005—The Herceptin Adjuvant (HERA) (Breast International Group [BIG] 01-01) Trial showed 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. 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, a five-year initiative to reduce cancer disparities in minority and underserved populations through community participation in education, research, and training.

September 16, 2005—Preliminary results from a large clinical trial of digital versus 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 or who are younger than age 50, may benefit from having a digital rather than a film mammogram.

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.

October 2005—NCI initiated the Patient Navigator Research Program (PNRP) 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.

October 5, 2005—The 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. The report's authors attribute the declines in death rates to progress in prevention, early detection, and treatment.

October 11, 2005—NCI announced the Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer 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.

November 7, 2005—NCI launched a cancer biorepository pilot project designed to standardize biospecimen collection and management among investigators of Specialized Programs of Research Excellence for prostate cancer to enhance the quality and availability of various biospecimens and associated data for the broader scientific community.

December 7, 2005—Results from several studies presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium validated that a test called Oncotype DX 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.

December 13, 2005—NCI and the National Human Genome Research Institute 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, 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.

April 17, 2006—Initial results of the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene showed that the drug raloxifene, 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.

May 23, 2006—The Trial Assigning Individualized Options for Treatment (Rx) or TAILORx was launched 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.

June 7, 2006—Gene profiling, a molecular technique that examines many genes simultaneously, was shown to 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, 2006—NCI announced FDA approval of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, based on the research of NCI scientists Douglas Lowy, M.D., and John Schiller, Ph.D. Nearly two decades before, researchers at NCI and other institutions began searching for the underlying causes of cervical cancer. That scientific quest led to the vaccine Gardasil (human papillomavirus [HPV] vaccine, quadrivalent), which protects against infection from the two types of human papillomavirus that cause the majority of cervical cancers worldwide.

June 29, 2006—Researchers at NCI identified a link between inherited and acquired genetic factors that dramatically increase the chance of developing a very common type of melanoma.

August 1, 2006—NCI researchers published a model for estimating an individual’s 5-year risk of melanoma, based on visual inspection of the patient’s back as well as risk factors identified in a large U.S. case-control study, and incidence rates for melanoma in the U.S. population. The Melanoma Risk Assessment Tool can be used by health professionals to identify individuals at increased risk of melanoma, help them plan for regular screening, and potential

October 5, 2006—The Biomarkers Consortium, a public-private biomedical research partnership composed of The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, NIH, FDA, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, formed 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.

October 18, 2006—NCI released new data from the Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility (CGEMS) study on prostate cancer intended to help identify genetic factors that influence the disease and could 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.

March 28, 2007—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 an American College of Radiology Imaging Network study supported by NCI. Adding an MRI scan to the diagnostic evaluation effectively doubled the number of cancers immediately found in these women.

April 1, 2007—NCI and Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility 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.

April 18, 2007—A report using data from NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program showed that a 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—Researchers from NCI and Baylor College of Medicine found that people infected with the hepatitis C virus are at an increased risk of developing certain lymphomas (cancers of the lymphatic system).

June 14, 2007—NCI launched the three-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 was designed to encourage collaboration between private-practice medical, surgical and radiation oncologists and NCI’s network of 63 NCI-designated Cancer Centers principally based at large research universities.

October 15, 2007The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2004, 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 1, 2007—NCI sponsored a symposium, HIV/AIDS Research at the National Cancer Institute: A Record of Sustained Excellence, to celebrate the achievements in HIV/AIDS research by former and current NCI scientists, and announce future plans for continuing efforts to combat HIV infection, the devastating consequences of AIDS, and AIDS-related cancers.

November 27, 2007—A new model for calculating invasive breast cancer risk (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—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.

March 6, 2008—DNA mutations found in a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that has a poor prognosis led researchers to a better understanding of how the cancer develops and how it might be treated.

April 21, 2008—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. Researchers found that one result of this Brd4 regulation is the suppression of tumor growth and metastasis in a mouse model of cancer.

June 23, 2008—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.

January 1, 2009—Scientists 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 determine appropriate therapies.

February 11, 2009—Researchers established 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, 2009—A new report from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, designed to provide answers about the effectiveness of prostate cancer screening, showed that six annual screenings for prostate cancer led to more diagnoses of the disease, but no fewer prostate cancer deaths.

August 14, 2009—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.

October 5, 2009—Researchers 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 revealed a potential new target for the treatment of this disease.

October 7, 2009—Researchers found that 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.

December 18, 2009—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 avoided recurrences longer than patients who received a placebo.

January 6, 2010—Researchers with a study conducted at NCI, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Human Genome Research Institute, discovered genetic mutations that may contribute to the development of an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. These findings provided insight into a mechanism that cancer cells may use to survive, thus identifying potential new targets for treatment of the disease.

January 19, 2010—Researchers found that the most common form of malignant brain cancer in adults, glioblastoma multiforme, is not a single disease but appears to be four distinct molecular subtypes that respond to aggressive chemotherapy and radiation differently, according to a study by The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network.

April 19, 2010—Long-term results show that Raloxifene, a common osteoporosis drug, 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. Raloxifene retained 76% of the effectiveness of Tamoxifen in preventing invasive disease and grew closer to Tamoxifen in preventing noninvasive disease. In particular, there was significantly less endometrial cancer with raloxifene use.

November 4, 2010—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% fewer lung cancer deaths among trial participants screened with low-dose helical CT.

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

December 23, 2010—NCI announced major changes to the long-established Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Program that conducts many of the nationwide trials of new cancer therapies. In a major transformation, NCI intends to consolidate the nine groups that currently conduct trials in adult cancer patients into four state-of-the-art entities that will design and perform improved trials of cancer therapies. The changes are designed to provide greater benefits for cancer patients and more information for researchers. These moves come in response to an NCI-requested April 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine, which called for a series of changes to the cooperative groups program, including restructuring. The NCI Cooperative Group program, founded over 50 years ago, involves more than 3,100 institutions and 14,000 investigators, and the program enrolls over 25,000 patients in clinical trials each year.

March 10, 2011—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.

March 31, 2011—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% per year for the same period.

June 5, 2011—NCI announced clinical trial results showing that in a high-risk form of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a high-dose schedule of a drug raises already high cure rates even higher.

June 29, 2011—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, 2011—The NCI-sponsored Costa Rica Vaccine Trial was designed to assess the efficacy of Cervarix in a community-based setting. Two doses of the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) Cervarix were as effective as the current standard three-dose regimen after four years of follow-up.

January 19, 2012—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.

March 2, 2012—The Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study looked at 12,315 workers at 8 non-metal mining facilities in the United States. Federal government scientists reported that heavy exposure to diesel exhaust increased risk of death from lung cancer.

March 8, 2012—In a new examination of United States cancer incidence data, investigators 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, 2012—In a study that spanned 20 years, the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial, sponsored by NCI, found that sigmoidoscopy is effective in reducing the rates of new cases and deaths due to colorectal cancer. Researchers found that overall colorectal cancer mortality (deaths) was reduced by 26% and incidence (new cases) was reduced by 21% as a result of screening with sigmoidoscopy.

September 24, 2012—A 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, the most malignant form of ovarian cancer which accounts for up to 70% of all ovarian cancer cases.

September 27, 2012—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.

2013—NCI established the RAS Initiative to mobilize the cancer research community to develop ways to understand and target cancers driven by mutant RAS genes in an open model of collaboration among government, academic, and industry researchers. More than 30 percent of all human cancers are driven by mutations of the RAS family of genes. This approach is called a "hub and spoke" model. The Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) acts as the hub that connects to the larger community of RAS researchers around the world combining efforts and creating new ways to approach the complex issue of RAS.

September 19, 2013—A world-wide competition to bring emerging breast cancer technologies to market was launched by the Avon Foundation for Women, in partnership with NCI and the Center for Advancing Innovation. The Avon Foundation funded $250,000 in grants to launch the Breast Cancer Start-up Challenge aimed at teams of business, legal, medical/scientific, engineering, and computer science students, as well as seasoned entrepreneurs. Teams were offered the opportunity to create strategic business plans and the potential to start new companies based on the development of 10 unlicensed breast cancer inventions by turning them into commercially marketed products. Breast cancer inventions include therapeutics, diagnostics, prognostics, one device, one vaccine, and a health IT invention, all from the NCI intramural Center for Cancer Research and Avon Foundation-funded university labs.

October 10, 2013—Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) was the first cancer type to be systematically studied by The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network (TCGA) in 2008. In a new, complementary report, TCGA experts examined more than 590 GBM samples—the largest to date utilizing genomic characterization techniques and nearly 400 more than were examined in 2008—to identify several additional significantly mutated genes in GBM.

November 13, 2013—A trial conducted by researchers at NCI showed adult patients with a type of cancer known as Burkitt lymphoma had excellent long-term survival rates—upwards of 90 percent—following treatment with low-intensity chemotherapy regimens. Standard treatment for Burkitt lymphoma involves high-dose chemotherapy, which has a high rate of toxicity, including death, and cures only 60 percent of adult patients.

November 20, 2013—NCI scientists report that the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer significantly increased during the period 1983-2002 among people in countries that are economically developed. Recent studies from several countries have reported rising incidence of oropharyngeal cancers and subsequent studies have shown the human papilloma virus (HPV) as the potential cause. Researchers note that prophylactic HPV vaccine has been shown to protect against oral HPV infection, suggesting an additional benefit of vaccination programs for both women and men.

March 1, 2014—NCI transformed its longstanding Cooperative Group program into the new National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN). Recent advances in deciphering the cancer genome have enabled the development of targeted therapies. To explore targeted therapies, cancer clinical trials need to screen large numbers of patients with the same or different histologic tumor types to identify those patients whose tumors contain the distinct molecular targets of the therapies being tested. NCI’s NCTN was developed to meet these new scientific challenges and is organized to take maximal advantage of the opportunities afforded by the improved understanding of tumor biology as well as the improved efficiencies created by the centralization and streamlining of many critical functions, such as tissue banks, ethics approvals, and imaging support.

March 5, 2014—Ten winners of a world-wide competition to bring emerging breast cancer research technologies to market faster were announced today by the Avon Foundation for Women, in partnership with the NCI, and the Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI). Avon is providing $250,000 in funding for this challenge.

August 18, 2014—In NCI’s 5 to 6-year ALCHEMIST Trial (Adjuvant Lung Cancer Enrichment Marker Identification and Sequencing Trials), 6,000-8,000 participant’s surgically removed tumors will be tested in a central laboratory for genetic changes in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene. ALCHEMIST represents three integrated, precision medicine trials that are designed to identify people with early-stage lung cancer who have tumors that harbor EGFR and ALK gene alterations and evaluate whether drug treatments targeted against those molecular changes can lead to improved survival compared to current standard of care therapy alone (e.g., chemotherapy with or without radiotherapy after complete surgical resection as prescribed by a participant’s treating physician).

August 30, 2014—In a large international collaborative analysis of risk factors for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), NCI scientists were able to quantify risk associated with medical history, lifestyle factors, family history of blood or lymph-borne cancers, and occupation for 11 different NHL subtypes, including less common subtypes. These findings provide crucial insight into the diverse factors that drive different NHL subtypes and correspond with their biological and clinical characteristics.

October 7, 2014—President Obama announced that John Schiller, Ph.D., Laboratory of Cellular Oncology (LCO), Center for Cancer Research, NCI; and Douglas Lowy, M.D., also from LCO and NCI (then) deputy director, would be recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation—the nation's highest honor for technological achievement. The honorees received their medals at a White House ceremony later in 2014 as recognition for their outstanding contributions to discoveries that enabled the development of HPV vaccines.

2014—The NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) is launched. NCORP is a national network of investigators, cancer care providers, academic institutions, and other organizations. NCORP replaced NCI's previously supported community networks: Community Clinical Oncology Program and the NCI Community Cancer Centers Program. NCORP conducts multi-site cancer clinical trials and studies in diverse populations in community-based healthcare systems across the United States and Puerto Rico with a goal of NCORP bringing cancer clinical trials and cancer care delivery research to individuals in their own communities.

2015—President Obama announced a research effort focusing on bringing precision medicine to many aspects of healthcare. $216 million in funding was allocated to NCI and FDA for the initiative. Researchers at NCI intend to use this approach to find new, more effective treatments for various kinds of cancer based on increased knowledge of the genetics and biology of the disease and scientists hope to apply precision medicine to all areas of health and healthcare.

January 27, 2015—In the largest prospective study to date of image-guided technology for identifying suspicious regions of the prostate to biopsy, NCI researchers compared the ability of this technology to detect high-risk prostate cancer with that of the current standard of unguided prostate biopsy. The image-guided approach, called MR/US fusion biopsy, combines targeted magnetic resonance (MR) imaging with transrectal ultrasound (US) to identify regions of suspected cancer to biopsy, whereas the current standard of detection, performed with ultrasound alone, involves biopsy of the entire prostate with twelve needles to remove core samples from separate areas of the organ.

April 20, 2015—A new NCI study shows that inherited variations in a known tumor suppressor gene among children and adolescents with osteosarcoma, a cancer of the bone, are more common than previously thought. Older patients who are also susceptible to this malignancy were not found to carry mutations in the gene, known as TP53.

June 1, 2015—Investigators for the nationwide trial, NCI-MATCH (Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice), announced that the precision medicine trial will open to patient enrollment. NCI-MATCH analyzes patients’ tumors to determine whether they contain gene abnormalities for which a targeted drug exists and assigns treatment based on the abnormality. The study was co-developed by NCI and the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, a cooperative group that was formed by the merger of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) and the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN).

August 13, 2015—Using novel large-scale imaging technology, NCI intramural researchers announced they have mapped the spatial location of individual genes in the nucleus of human cells and identified 50 cellular factors required for the proper three-dimensional (3D) positioning of genes. These spatial locations play important roles in gene expression, DNA repair, genome stability, and other cellular activities.

January 12, 2016—During his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Vice President Biden to lead a new, national “Moonshot” initiative to eliminate cancer as we know it. The goal is to double the rate of progress against cancer, achieving in five years what otherwise would have taken ten. The White House announced a $1 billion initiative to jumpstart this work.

May 16, 2016—NCI scientists found that leisure-time physical activity was associated with lower risks of 13 cancer types (esophageal adenocarcinoma, liver, lung, kidney, gastric cardia, endometrial, myeloid leukemia, myeloma, colon, head and neck, rectal, bladder, and breast). Most of these associations were evident regardless of body mass index or smoking history. These findings confirm and extend the evidence for a benefit of physical activity on cancer risk and support its role as a key component of population-wide cancer prevention.

June 29, 2016—NCI’s Genomic Data Commons (GDC) is announced. This data sharing platform promotes precision medicine in oncology. It is an expandable knowledge network supporting the import and standardization of genomic and clinical data from cancer research programs. The GDC contains NCI-generated data from some of the largest and most comprehensive cancer genomic datasets, including The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Therapies (TARGET). As more researchers add clinical and genomic data to the GDC, it will become an even more powerful tool for making discoveries about the molecular basis of cancer that may lead to better care for patients.

July 11, 2016—In the spirit of collaboration inspired by the Cancer Moonshot, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Defense (DoD), and NCI announced a new tri-agency coalition to help cancer patients by enabling their oncologists to more rapidly and accurately identify effective drugs to treat cancer based on a patient’s unique proteogenomic profile. The APOLLO  Network (Applied Proteogenomics OrganizationaL Learning and Outcomes)  will look at both a patient’s genes (genomic analysis) and the expression of these genes in the form of proteins (proteomic analysis) to create the nation’s first system in which cancer patients are routinely screened for genomic abnormalities and proteomic information to match their tumor types to targeted therapies. Initially, APOLLO is focusing on a combined cohort of 8,000 cancer patients within the nation’s two largest healthcare systems — the VA and DoD — with the aim of expanding the program to additional cancer types and making findings available to physicians across the country.

September 7, 2016—NCI Acting Director Douglas Lowy, M.D., accepted the recommendations of a Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) on 10 scientific approaches most likely to make a decade’s worth of progress against cancer in five years under the Cancer Moonshot. The report was presented by the BRP to the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB), and it was subsequently considered and accepted by the NCAB with revisions that reflect NCAB’s discussion.

December 7, 2016—In a study of an immune therapy for colorectal cancer that involved a single patient, researchers identified a method for targeting the cancer-causing protein produced by a mutant form of the KRAS gene.

December 28, 2016—In an early-phase intramural clinical trial of a new oral drug, selumetinib, children with the common genetic disorder neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and plexiform neurofibromas, tumors of the peripheral nerves, tolerated selumetinib and, in most cases, responded to it with tumor shrinkage. At present, no therapies are considered effective for NF1-related large plexiform neurofibromas, but, in this trial, partial responses, meaning 20 percent or more reduction in tumor volume, were observed in over 70 percent of the patients. NF1 affects 1 in 3,000 people.

NCI Legislative Chronology

February 4, 1927—Senator M. M. Neely, West Virginia, introduced Senate Bill 5589 to authorize a reward for the discovery of a successful cure for cancer. 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.

April 2, 1937—Senator Homer T. Bone, 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, authorizing an annual appropriation of $1 million.

April 29, 1937—Congressman Maury Maverick, 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.

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 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.

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)

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)

November 4, 1988—The Health Research Extension Act of 1988 provides a two-year extension, which reaffirms the special authorities of NCI and added information dissemination mandates. 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. (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 10, 2000—The Radiation Exposure Compensation Amendments of 1999 allow more workers who handled radioactive material for weapons programs to be eligible to receive federal compensation for radiation-induced illness. (P.L. 106-245)

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)

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 six 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 to funding breast cancer research. (P.L. 110-150)

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 National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences 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 raises 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)

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 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 non-mailable 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 provisions requiring the U.S. Postal Service to issue a special postage stamp which contributes to funding breast cancer research, extending them 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 five-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)

December 11, 2015­—The Breast Cancer Stamp Reauthorization Act reauthorized the issuance of semipostal stamps for breast cancer research, through 2019. (P.L. 114-19)

December 13, 2016—The 21st Century Cures Act increases funding for biomedical research, and aims to enhance the speed at which drugs are developed and approved. Key NIH provisions aim to coordinate policies relating to early career investigators, improve loan repayment programs, and streamline procedural requirements for attendance at scientific meetings. The bill reauthorizes the NIH for FY2018-FY2020 and creates a $4.8 billion NIH Innovation Account. This account supports the work of the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot at a level of $1.8 billion over seven years, as well as the Precision Medicine Initiative, the BRAIN Initiative, and specific regenerative medicine research. The funds in the Account must be appropriated annually.

Biographical Sketch of NCI Director Dr. W. Kimryn Rathmell

Image of W. Kimryn Rathmell, M.D., Ph.D. W. Kimryn Rathmell, M.D., Ph.D.Vanderbilt University Medical Center

W. Kimryn Rathmell, M.D., Ph.D., M.M.H.C., was sworn in as the 17th NCI director on December 18, 2023. She previously led the Vanderbilt University Medical Center as physician-in-chief and chair of the Department of Medicine.

Dr. Rathmell is a recipient of the 2019 Louisa Nelson Award for Women of Achievement, Vision, and Inspiration, the 2019 Eugene P. Schonfeld Award from the Kidney Cancer Association, and the Paragon Award for Research Excellence from the Doris Duke Foundation. She was a leader of The Cancer Genome Atlas’s (TCGA) kidney cancer projects and served as a TCGA analysis working group member across the spectrum of cancers, winning the 2020 American Association for Cancer Research Team Science Award. She has served on the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors, and the Forbeck Foundation Scientific Advisory Board.

Dr. Rathmell has held leadership positions with the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Society for Clinical Investigation, serving as secretary–treasurer and president. As a result of her efforts, Dr. Rathmell has been elected to the Association of American Physicians, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Rathmell’s specialty is the research and treatment of complex and hereditary kidney cancers. She also focuses on underlying drivers of kidney cancers using genetic, molecular, and cell biology to develop interventions to improve patients’ lives. Dr. Rathmell’s research has resulted in more than 250 articles in leading peer-reviewed journals, including The New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Dr. Rathmell earned undergraduate degrees in biology and chemistry from the University of Northern Iowa and her Ph.D. in biophysics and M.D. from Stanford University. She completed an internal medicine internship at the University of Chicago and an internal medicine residency, medical oncology fellowship, and postdoctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2022, she completed her Master of Management in Health Care from the Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management.

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
Norman E. Sharpless October 17, 2017 September, 2022
Monica Bertagnolli  October 3, 2022 November 8, 2023
Douglas R. Lowy November 9, 2023 December 17, 2023
W. Kimryn Rathmell December 18, 2023 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 CCR is the largest division of the NCI intramural research program and comprises over 230 basic and clinical research groups located on two campuses outside of Washington, D.C.

The CCR is home to an extraordinary group of scientists and clinicians exploring the cutting-edge of cancer and HIV/AIDS research.  Our scientists work on a wide spectrum of biological and biomedical problems ranging from visualizing and understanding the structure of individual genes and proteins, developing novel methods for drug discovery, to inventing biomedical devices and technology and creating innovative ways to treat patients in the NIH Clinical Center.

Our scientists enjoy complete intellectual freedom and are expected to creatively and innovatively explore the most important questions in the field of cancer research and treatment.  We support projects over a long time horizon allowing our investigators to pursue some of the most difficult, high-risk problems in the field and we are always on the lookout for new challenges and the most pressing problems in modern cancer research.

The success of the CCR is grounded in an exceptionally strong discovery research program which provides the foundation for the seamless translation of insights into basic cellular and molecular processes to clinical applications and patient care. Examples of our success are the development of ground-breaking immunotherapy approaches, HIV/AIDS test and the creation of human papilloma virus vaccine.

The CCR is a unique place of science where we combine diverse expertise with the freedom to thoroughly pursue the most pressing questions in cancer biology and treatment.

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Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics

Through its broad programs in epidemiology, genetics, statistics, and related areas, the intramural 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 five 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 metabolic 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; conduct integrative analyses of environmental and germline risk factors with comprehensive data on histological and molecular profiling of tumors and their precursors, including somatic genomic analyses; 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:

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Division of Cancer Biology

The Division of Cancer Biology (DCB) supports basic research in all areas of cancer biology and provides the research foundation that improves understanding of the disease. This basic research may lead to new approaches for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Research on basic cancer biology provides the building blocks to new treatments and clinical trials. DCB provides scientific management for approximately 2,000 grants each year. DCB facilitates investigator-initiated research by working with individual investigators, professional societies, and research institutions to provide information, advice, and guidance on opportunities for research support. At the forefront of cancer research, DCB establishes program priorities by identifying and addressing emerging scientific areas or gaps in the scientific research portfolio and reports on scientific progress and program accomplishments to the scientific community, NCI, Congress, and the public.

Basic research is supported by the Division in the following major research areas:  cancer cell biology; cancer immunology, hematology, and etiology; DNA and chromosome aberrations; structural biology and molecular applications; tumor biology and microenvironment; and tumor metastasis. 

Special research programs within DCB include: Physical Sciences-Oncology Network, Cancer Systems Biology Consortium, Oncology Models Forum, Barrett's Esophagus Translational Research Network, New Approaches to Synthetic Lethality for Mutant KRAS-Dependent Cancers, Molecular and Cellular Characterization of Screen-Detected Lesions, Fusion Oncoproteins in Childhood Cancers, and Cancer Tissue Engineering Collaborative.

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 International Registry of Werner Syndrome.

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Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences

The Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS), NCI’s bridge to public health research, practice, and policy, plays a unique role in reducing the burden of cancer in America. DCCPS, an extramural division, supports research in surveillance, epidemiology, health services, behavioral science, and cancer survivorship. The division also plays a central role within the federal government as a source of expertise and evidence on issues such as the quality of cancer care, the economic burden of cancer, geographic information systems, statistical methods, communication science, comparative effectiveness research, obesity and tobacco control, and the translation of research into practice.  

The DCCPS philosophy that scientific progress in the 21st century will depend on the transdisciplinary integration of research methods, models, and levels of analysis drives the focus on varied and complex expertise and backgrounds of the division’s scientific staff. In addition to an emphasis on epidemiology and biostatistics, DCCPS has made a special effort to recruit experts in disciplines such as communication, anthropology, outcomes research, psychometrics, medical genetics, health psychology, economics, social work, policy analysis, geography, and family medicine. DCCPS programs include: Behavioral Research Program, Epidemiology & Genomics Research Program, Healthcare Delivery Research Program, and Surveillance Research Program. The Office of Cancer Survivorship is housed within DCCPS and promotes a better understanding of the unique needs of cancer survivors and how to address those needs.

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Division of Cancer Prevention

The Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP) conducts and supports research to determine a person's risk of developing cancer and to find ways to reduce that risk. Through laboratory, clinical, and epidemiologic research, scientists have shown that the diseases of cancer occur not as single, catastrophic events, but rather as the result of a complex and long-evolving molecular process. The intervals between initiation of the cancer process and occurrence of the invasive disease vary by organ and tissue sites, and some may take decades. DCP research portfolio focuses across this span, with a goal to detect changes and intervene early in the cancer process to prevent disease and death.

Research groups include: Chemopreventive Agent Development Research Group, Community Oncology and Prevention Trials Research Group, Nutritional Science Research Group, Cancer Biomarkers Research Group, Early Detection Research Group, Biometry Research Group, and four organ system research groups.

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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, biomarkers, imaging tests, and other therapeutic interventions (radiation, surgery, immunotherapy) in patients. Investigators supported by the division engage in scientifically sound, high-risk research that may yield great benefits for patients with cancer, but are too difficult or risky for industry or academia to pursue. This includes a particular emphasis on the development of distinct molecular signatures for cancer, refined molecular assays, and state-of-the-art imaging techniques that will guide oncologic therapy in the future as well as a commitment to precision medicine initiatives.

The division has eight major programs that work together to bring unique molecules, diagnostic tests, and therapeutic interventions from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside: The Biometric Research Program, The Cancer Diagnosis Program, The Cancer Imaging Program, The Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, The Developmental Therapeutics Program, The Radiation Research Program, The Translational Research Program, and The Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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Division of Extramural Activities

The Division of Extramural Activities (DEA) was established to provide NCI and the scientific community with expert scientific review of the merits of extramural research, procedures, and policies to help the Institute achieve its goal. DEA coordinates NCI's extramural initiatives by guiding funding, providing scientific peer review and oversight, coordinating advisory committees, establishing policies and procedures, 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 approximately 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.

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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. 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, while 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 and the offices it oversees—The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and the Office of Cancer Genomics (OCG)—manage multiple programs. These offices serve to advance CCG's goal of ushering in a modern era of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention based on the study of genomes. Programs include: Genomic Data Commons, Cancer Driver Discovery Program, Cancer Genome Characterization Initiative, Cancer Target Discovery and Development Network, Human Cancer Models Initiative, and Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments.

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Center for Cancer Training

The Center for Cancer Training (CCT) is committed to catalyzing the development of a 21st century workforce capable of advancing cancer research through a scientifically integrated approach. CCT coordinates and provides research training and career development activities for NCI's laboratories, clinics, and other research groups. These cancer training and career development opportunities cover a broad spectrum of disciplines for individuals at career stages ranging from high school and graduate students to scientists, clinicians, and health care professionals. CCT is responsible for developing, coordinating, and implementing opportunities for support of cancer research training, career development, and education at institutions nationwide. CCT identifies workforce needs in cancer research and adapts NCI's training and career development programs and funding opportunities to address these needs. CCT creates new opportunities that enhance recruiting and retention, increase partnerships, and generate diversity awareness.

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Center for Global Health

The Center for Global Health (CGH) was established in 2011 to help reduce the global burden of cancer. CGH develops initiatives and collaborates with other NCI divisions, NCI-designated cancer centers, and countries to support cancer control planning build capacity, and support cancer research and cancer research networks in low- and middle-income countries. CGH serves as the focal point for all global health activities within NCI by leading the development of global cancer research priorities, providing strategic vision to the global cancer community, and pursuing strategies directed towards control of cancer on a global scale.

CGH conducts and supports international cancer research, training, health information dissemination, and other relevant biomedical research programs. It coordinates collaborations and partnerships with other agencies and organizations engaged in efforts to improve global health. Research programs and initiatives include: Cancer Control Planning, Capacity Building, and Cancer Research and Research Networks.

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Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives

The Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives (CSSI) focuses on creating and uniquely implementing exploratory programs focused on the development and integration of advanced technologies, trans-disciplinary approaches, infrastructures, and standards to accelerate the creation of publicly available, broadly accessible, multi-dimensional data, knowledge, and tools to empower the entire cancer research continuum for patient benefits. Since its inception, CSSI has undertaken a number of programs and initiatives that have contributed significantly to addressing major barriers and opportunities in cancer research. These initiatives are also designed to enable advances that can be translated to the clinic and substantially impact patient care.

CSSI programs build databases, knowledge, tools and extramural trans-disciplinary scientific teams to promote the themes of the center. Offices include: CSSI Office of the Director, Office of Cancer Clinical Proteomics Research, and Office of Cancer Nanotechnology Research.

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Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities

NCI established the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) in 2001 to help reduce the unequal burden of cancer in our society by leading NCI’s efforts in workforce diversity by training students and investigators from diverse backgrounds.  CRCHD strengthens NCI’s cancer research portfolio to address cancer health disparities throughout NCI, builds regional networks to foster collaboration, enhances capacity in disparities research and career development, and disseminates culturally appropriate, evidence-based cancer information to underserved communities. The National Outreach Network (NON) seeks to strengthen NCI's ability to develop and disseminate culturally appropriate, evidence-based cancer information that is tailored to the specific needs and expectations of underserved communities, working through NON community health educators located at NCI-designated Cancer Centers.

CRCHD supports the following research programs: Community Networks Program Centers, Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity, Basic Cancer Research Program, Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences, and Geographical Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program.

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Office of HIV and AIDS Malignancy

The Office of HIV and AIDS Malignancy (OHAM) is responsible 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. NCI has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS research since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and NCI scientists have made a number of critical research contributions.

NCI currently supports robust and varied research through OHAM’s two main programs. The AIDS Malignancy Program identifies new initiatives for international activities, such as the initiative to Strengthen Capacity for HIV-Associated Malignancy Research in Africa, and oversees programs that NCI co-manages with other Institutes. The AIDS Cancer Clinical Program oversees clinical programs in OHAM, including the AIDS Malignancy Consortium and the AIDS and Cancer Specimen Resource.

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Small Business Innovation Research Development Center

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs at NCI are managed by the SBIR Development Center. 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.

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Office of Cancer Centers

The Office of Cancer Centers (OCC) program supports 72 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 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.

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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 Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc., for NCI. The lab provides quick response capabilities and meets special long-term research and development needs for NCI. 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, and Advanced Biomedical Imaging.

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This page last reviewed on March 26, 2024