At the American Association for Cancer Research 100th Annual Meeting 2009 in Denver, National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director John E. Niederhuber, M.D., announced major details, such as funding more grants, development of a platform for personalized cancer care, and an accelerated cancer genetics program, that will move cancer research forward in this new economic environment. NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“We must hasten our progress against cancer by conducting exciting new science, which this year’s increase in funding, in addition to anticipated funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will help make possible,” said Niederhuber. “Because cancer research contributes to the diagnosis and treatment of many other major diseases, we anticipate NCI’s efforts will lead to scientific advances necessary to improve the nation’s health.”
After several years of flat budgets or those that decreased based on rates of medical inflation, NCI received a nearly three percent budget increase this fiscal year. NCI’s actions today follow on what President Barack Obama said recently when he announced the Obama-Biden Cancer Plan: “I hope this investment will ignite our imagination once more, spurring new discoveries and breakthroughs in science, in medicine, in energy, to make our economy stronger and our nation more secure and our planet safer for our children.”
Among plans to strengthen cancer research discussed by Niederhuber include the following:
* An increase in the NCI payline to fund a greater number of meritorious investigator-initiated projects. The payline is the funding cutoff point for grant applications that is set at the beginning of a fiscal year. This year’s budget increase of approximately 3 percent will take NCI’s payline from the 12th percentile to the 16th percentile, with further increases to the 25th percentile likely for two year and longer-term grants.
* More grants to first-time investigators
* Help to universities for assisting and training new faculty investigators
* Development of a personalized cancer care platform — based upon the knowledge that cancer is a disease of altered genes — to encompass and enable drug development, from discovery of genetic changes to clinical applications for patients.
* A new network of Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers to explore new and innovative approaches to better understanding and controlling cancer through the convergence of the physical sciences with cancer biology.
* Expansion of The Cancer Genome Atlas, which is designed to accelerate our understanding of the molecular basis of cancer through the application of high throughput genome analysis technologies that interrogate the genomes of statistically significant numbers of high quality human cancer biospecimens.
To view a Webcast of Dr. Niederhuber’s speech at AACR, please go to https://www.aacr.org/.
To view a text copy of Dr. Niederhuber’s speech, please go to https://web.archive.org/web/20101220182053/http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/AACRspeech2009QandA.
For more information on NCI’s ARRA plans and progress, please go to https://web.archive.org/web/20101221114303/http://www.cancer.gov/recovery.
Joel T Nowak MA, MSW
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