National Cancer Institute

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is one of eleven agencies that are part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NCI coordinates the United States National Cancer Program and conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other activities related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer; the supportive care of cancer patients and their families; and cancer survivorship.

On June 10, 2017, President Donald Trump announced his appointment of Dr. Norman Edward “Ned” Sharpless, M.D., as director of the National Cancer Institute. On October 17 of that year, Dr. Sharpless was sworn in as the NCI's 15th director.[2][3]

NCI is the oldest and has the largest budget and research program of the 27 institutes and centers of the NIH. It fulfills the majority of its mission via an extramural program that provides grants for cancer research. Additionally, the National Cancer Institute has intramural research programs in Bethesda, Maryland and at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research[6] at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland. The NCI receives more than US$5 billion in funding each year.[7]

The NCI supports a nationwide network of 69 NCI-designated Cancer Centers with a dedicated focus on cancer research and treatment[8] and maintains the National Clinical Trials Network.[9]

National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Agency overview
FormedAugust 5, 1937
JurisdictionFederal government of the United States
HeadquartersOffice of the Director,
31 Center Drive, Building 31, Bethesda, Maryland,
Agency executive
Parent departmentUnited States Department of Health and Human Services
Parent agencyNational Institutes of Health
Child agencies



Wooden sign
An early wooden sign for the National Cancer Institute

Anti-cancer drug investigations


The NCI is divided into several divisions and centers.[15]


  • Center for Cancer Research
The CCR includes approximately 250 internal NCI research groups in Frederick and Bethesda.[16]
  • Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics
DCEG is divided into the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program and the Human Genetics Program.[17]


  • Division of Cancer Biology
DCB oversees approximately 2000 grants per year in the areas of cancer cell biology; cancer immunology, hematology, and etiology; DNA and chromosome aberrations; structural biology and molecular applications; tumor biology and microenvironment; and tumor metastasis.[18] "Special Research Programs" falling under the aegis of the 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.[19]
  • Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences
  • Division of Cancer Prevention
  • Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis
DCTD supports eight research programs: 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.[20]
  • Division of Extramural Activities
DEA processes and supports the thousands of grant applications NCI receives each year and compiles reports on the progress of research funded by the NCI's programs.[21]

Office of the director

  • Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology
  • Center for Cancer Genomics
CCG was created in 2011 and is responsible for management of The Cancer Genome Atlas and cancer genomics initiatives.
  • Center for Cancer Training
  • Center for Global Health
  • Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives
In the 1990s, the Unconventional Innovation Program was created to integrate interdisciplinary technology research with biological applications. It was reorganized in 2004 as the CSSI.[22]
  • Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities
  • Center for Research Strategy
  • Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials
  • Technology Transfer Center


NCI-designated Cancer Centers

The NCI-designated Cancer Centers are one of the primary arms in the NCI's mission in supporting cancer research. There are currently 69 so-designated centers; 13 clinical cancer centers, 49 comprehensive cancer centers, and 7 basic laboratory cancer centers. NCI supports these centers with grant funding in the form of P30 Cancer Center Support Grants to support shared research resources and interdisciplinary programs. Additionally, faculty at the cancer centers receive approximately 75% of the grant funding awarded by the NCI to individual investigators.[8][23]

The NCI cancer centers program was introduced in 1971 with 15 participating institutions.[24]

National Clinical Trials Network

The NCTN was formed in 2014, from the Cooperative Group program to modernize the existing system to support precision medicine clinical trials. With precision medicine, a large number of patients must be screened to determine eligibility for treatments in development.

Lead Academic Participating Sites (LAPS) were chosen at 30 academic institutions for their ability to conduct clinical trials and screen a large number of participants and awarded grants to support the infrastructure and administration required for clinical trials. Most LAPS grant recipients are also NCI-designated cancer centers.[9] NCTN also stores surgical tissue from patients in a nationwide network of tissue banks at various universities.

Developmental Therapeutics Program

The NCI Development Therapeutics Program (DTP) provides services and resources to the academic and private-sector research communities worldwide to facilitate the discovery and development of new cancer therapeutic agents.[25]

Under the label "Discovery & Development Services" several services are offered, among them the NCI-60 human cancer cell line screen and the Molecular Target Program.[26]

In the Molecular Target Program thousands of molecular targets have been measured in the NCI panel of 60 human tumor cell lines. Measurements include protein levels, RNA measurements, mutation status and enzyme activity levels.[27]

NCI-60 Human Tumor Cell Lines Screen

The evolution of strategies at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) illustrates the changes in screening that have resulted from advances in cancer biology. The Developmental Therapeutics Program (DTP) operates a tiered anti-cancer compound screening program with the goal of identifying novel chemical leads and biological mechanisms. The DTP screen is a three phase screen which includes: an initial screen which first involves a single dose cytotoxicity screen with the 60 cell line assay. Those passing certain thresholds are subjected to a 5 dose screen of the same 60 cell-line panel to determine a more detailed picture of the biological activity. A second phase screen establishes the maximum tolerable dosage and involves in vivo examination of tumor regression using the hollow fiber assay. The third phase of the study is the human tumor xenograft evaluation.

Active compounds are selected for testing based on several criteria: disease type specificity in the in vitro assay, unique structure, potency, and demonstration of a unique pattern of cellular cytotoxicity or cytostasis, indicating a unique mechanism of action or intracellular target.

A high correlation of cytotoxicity with compounds of known biological mechanism is often predictive of the drugs mechanism of action and thus a tool to aid in the drug development and testing. It also tells if there is any unique response of the drug which is not similar to any of the standard prototype compounds in the NCI database.


Director Tenure Notes
Carl Voegtlin[28] 1938-1943
Roscoe Roy Spencer 1943-1947
Leonard Andrew Scheele 1947-1948 Served as the seventh Surgeon General of the United States from 1948 to 1956.
John Roderick Heller 1948-1960
Kenneth Millo Endicott 1960-1969
Carl Gwin Baker 1970-1972
Frank Joesph Rauscher, Jr. 1972-1976
Arthur Canfield Upton 1977-1980
Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. 1980-1988
Samuel Broder 1988-1995
Richard D. Klausner 1995-2001 11th Director, left to become President of the Case Institute of Health, Science, and Technology and later Executive Director of Global Health for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.[29]
Andrew C. von Eschenbach 2002-2006 12th Director, served from 2001 to 2006 before transitioning to a role as Commissioner of Food and Drugs.[30][31]
John E. Niederhuber 2006-2010 13th Director of the NCI, was nominated by President George W. Bush.[32]
Harold Varmus 2010-2015 Co-winner of the Nobel Prize for studies of the genetic basis of cancer.[33] He was director of the National Institutes of Health from 1993 to 1999.
Douglas R. Lowy (Acting) April 2015—October 2017 Serving as NCI's deputy director since September 2010.[34]
Norman E. Sharpless 17 October 2017— 15th Director of the NCI.[2][3]

Notable NCI faculty

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Director's Page — National Cancer Institute". Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "NCI Director Dr. Norman E. Sharpless — Director's Page — Leadership — About NCI". 18 December 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Dr Norman Edward Sharpless, MD, NIH Enterprise Directory (NED)". Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Visitor Information". 1980-01-01. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  5. ^ NCI's Shady Grove Campus To Open In 2013. NIH Record. LXII. 2 April 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2019. The change is being made primarily due to the leases expiring at EPN, EPS and a few other buildings on Executive Blvd. The new buildings would house, in one facility, staff from those leased sites... NCI will continue to occupy floors 10 and 11 of Bldg. 31’s A wing, as well as much of the 3rd floor, and the NCI director will remain in 31. There are also many staff members in lab buildings and the Clinical Center on campus and a large presence in Frederick at Ft. Detrick.
  6. ^ "NCI-Frederick: NCI-Frederick Home Page". Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  7. ^ "Funding Trends". 2018-12-20.
  8. ^ a b "NCI-Designated Cancer Centers". 2012.
  9. ^ a b "NCI's National Clinical Trials Network". 2014-05-29.
  10. ^ "National Cancer Institute Act: Text of the Act of August 5, 1937, creating the National Cancer Institute and authorizing an appropriation therefor". JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 19 (2): 133–137. 1 August 1957. doi:10.1093/jnci/19.2.133. ISSN 0027-8874.
  11. ^ "Statutes at Large Volume 50 (1937) Table of Contents; VOL. 49 — VOL. 51". Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  12. ^ "75th Congress Public Law 244" (PDF). Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Statute 50 Page 559" (PDF). Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  14. ^ December 13, 2016 — Important Events in NCI History — National Cancer Institute (NCI). NIH Almanac. 18 October 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  15. ^ "NCI Organization". National Cancer Institute. 1980-01-01.
  16. ^ "About CCR". 21 July 2014.
  17. ^ "DCEG Home". Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics - National Cancer Institute. 1980-01-01.
  18. ^ "DCB Research Portfolio". National Cancer Institute. 2016-08-08.
  19. ^ "Division of Cancer Biology". National Cancer Institute. 2016-08-08.
  20. ^ "About DCTD - DCTD".
  21. ^ "About NCI Division of Extramural Activities".
  22. ^ "History - Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives (CSSI)".
  23. ^ "OCC Homepage - OCCWebApp 2.1.0".
  24. ^ "History of the NCI Cancer Centers Program". National Cancer Institute. 2012-08-13.
  25. ^ "Welcome to the Developmental Therapeutics Program". Developmental Therapeutics Program. National Cancer Institute. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  26. ^ "Discovery & Development Services". Developmental Therapeutics Program. National Cancer Institute. 26 August 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  27. ^ "Molecular Targets". Developmental Therapeutics Program. National Cancer Institute. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  28. ^ "National Cancer Institute (NCI)". 7 July 2015.
  29. ^ "Dr. Richard D. Klausner Named Executive Director of Global Health for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation".
  30. ^ U.S. Congress (7 December 2006). "Executive Session". Congressional Record. 152 (134): S11404–29, S11447–51. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
  31. ^ "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 109th Congress - 2nd Session".
  32. ^ "Emergent Biosolutions - Board of Directors bio". Retrieved 2013-12-06.
  33. ^ "Director's Page - National Cancer Institute (Archive)". Archived from the original on 2015-03-31. Retrieved 2015-04-02.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  34. ^ "NCI Deputy Director — Leadership — About US". 14 August 2018. Retrieved 2 January 2019.

General references

External links

ALVAC-CEA vaccine

ALVAC-CEA vaccine is a cancer vaccine containing a canary pox virus (ALVAC) combined with the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) human gene.

A phase I trial in 118 patients showed safety in humans.

Acute myeloblastic leukemia without maturation

Acute myeloblastic leukemia without maturation is a quickly progressing disease in which too many immature white blood cells (not lymphocytes) are found in the blood and bone marrow.It is classified as "M1" in the FAB classification.

Adenosquamous carcinoma

Adenosquamous carcinoma is a type of cancer that contains two types of cells: squamous cells (thin, flat cells that line certain organs) and gland-like cells. It has been associated with more aggressive characteristics when compared to adenocarcinoma in certain cancers.


Atamestane (developmental code name SH-489), also known as metandroden, as well as 1-methylandrosta-1,4-diene-3,17-dione, is a steroidal aromatase inhibitor that was studied in the treatment of cancer. It blocks the production of estrogen in the body. The drug is selective, competitive, and irreversible in its inhibition of aromatase.

Collagen disease

Collagen disease is a term previously used to describe systemic autoimmune diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and systemic sclerosis), but now is thought to be more appropriate for diseases associated with defects in collagen, which is a component of the connective tissue.

The term "collagen disease" was coined by Dr. Alvin F. Coburn in 1932, on his quest to discover streptococcal infection as the cause for rheumatic fever.


Comedocarcinoma is one kind of breast cancer which is most commonly very early-stage which demonstrates central necrosis. It is usually a type of ductal carcinoma in situ. Comedo carcinomas are usually non-infiltrating and intraductal tumors. However, there have been accounts of comedocarcinoma which has then diversified into other cell types and developed into infiltrating (invasive) ductal carcinoma. Recurrence and survival rates differ for invasive breast cancer which has originated as comedocarcinoma compared with other types of cancer cells.The duct will have characteristic necrotic tissue with calcification that feels cord-like. Squeezing the duct will yield inspissated material that is cheese-like and similar in consistency to toothpaste.

Comedocarcinoma has also been described as a histopathological type of Sebaceous carcinoma

Harold E. Varmus

Harold Eliot Varmus (born December 18, 1939) is an American Nobel Prize-winning scientist who was director of the National Institutes of Health from 1993 to 1999 and the 14th Director of the National Cancer Institute from 2010 to 2015, a post to which he was appointed by President Barack Obama. He was a co-recipient (along with J. Michael Bishop) of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes. He is currently the Lewis Thomas University Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and a Senior Associate at the New York Genome Center.

Inverted papilloma

An inverted papilloma is a type of tumor in which surface epithelial cells grow downward into the underlying supportive tissue. It may occur in the nose and/or sinuses or in the urinary tract (bladder, renal pelvis, ureter, urethra). When it occurs in the nose or sinuses, it may cause symptoms similar to those caused by sinusitis, such as nasal congestion. When it occurs in the urinary tract, it may cause blood in the urine.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) is a peer-reviewed medical journal covering research in oncology that was established in August 1940. It is published monthly by Oxford University Press and is edited by Patricia Ganz. It was merged with Cancer Treatment Reports in January 1988. JNCI used to be the official journal of the National Cancer Institute (NCI); however, in 1996, the NCI and JNCI agreed to grow apart. Over the next five years, JNCI became independent of the NCI.

A related publication is Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs (JNCI Monographs), established in 1959, which publishes manuscripts from cancer and cancer-related conferences, as well as groups of papers on specific subjects related to cancer. In January 1986, Cancer Treatment Symposia was merged with JNCI Monographs.

NCI-designated Cancer Center

NCI-designated Cancer Centers are a group of 70 cancer research institutions in the United States supported by the National Cancer Institute.

Neuroectodermal tumor

A neuroectodermal tumor is a tumor of the central or peripheral nervous system.

Nicotine lozenge

A nicotine lozenge is a tablet (usually flavored) that contains a dose of nicotine polacrilex which dissolves slowly in the mouth to release the nicotine. Nicotine lozenges are commonly found in 2mg and 4mg strengths although other strengths may be found. The nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth and enters the blood vessels. It is used as an aid in nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), a process for smoking cessation.

People using the lozenge should not smoke because of the increased risk of nicotine poisoning. Combination therapy can be employed by the use of nicotine lozenges and a nicotine patch to increase the chances of quitting tobacco successfully and permanently. The effects of the lozenge may be diminished from drinking anything fifteen minutes prior to taking the lozenge.

Octreotide scan

An octreotide scan or octreoscan is a type of scintigraphy used to find carcinoid, pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, and to localize sarcoidosis. It is also called somatostatin receptor scintigraphy (SRS). Octreotide, a drug similar to somatostatin, is radiolabeled with indium-111, and is injected into a vein and travels through the bloodstream. The radioactive octreotide attaches to tumor cells that have receptors for somatostatin (i.e. Gastrinoma, Glucagonima, etc). A gamma camera detects the radioactive octreotide, and makes pictures showing where the tumor cells are in the body.

Octreotide scanning is reported to have a sensitivity between 75% and 100% for detecting pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.


Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. A medical professional who practices oncology is an oncologist. The name's etymological origin is the Greek word ὄγκος (ónkos), meaning "tumor", "volume" or "mass" and the word λόγος (logos), meaning "study".Cancer survival has improved due to three main components including improved prevention efforts to reduce exposure to risk factors (e.g., tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption), improved screening of several cancers (allowing for earlier diagnosis), and improvements in treatment.Cancers are often managed through discussion on multi-disciplinary cancer conferences where medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, and organ specific oncologists meet to find the best possible management for an individual patient considering the physical, social, psychological, emotional, and financial status of the patient. It is very important for oncologists to keep updated with respect to the latest advancements in oncology, as changes in management of cancer are quite common.

Retrospective cohort study

A retrospective cohort study, also called a historic cohort study, is a longitudinal cohort study used in medical and psychological research. A cohort of individuals that share a common exposure factor is compared with another group of equivalent individuals not exposed to that factor, to determine the factor's influence on the incidence of a condition such as disease or death. Retrospective cohort studies have existed for approximately as long as prospective cohort studies.

Ribonucleotide reductase inhibitor

Ribonucleotide reductase inhibitors are a family of anti-cancer drugs that interfere with the growth of tumor cells by blocking the formation of deoxyribonucleotides (building blocks of DNA).

Examples include:

motexafin gadolinium.


fludarabine, cladribine, gemcitabine, tezacitabine, and triapine

gallium maltolate, gallium nitrate

Segmental resection

Segmental resection (or segmentectomy) is a surgical procedure to remove part of an organ or gland, as a sub-type of a resection, which might involve removing the whole body part. It may also be used to remove a tumor and normal tissue around it. In lung cancer surgery, segmental resection refers to removing a section of a lobe of the lung. The resection margin is the edge of the removed tissue; it is important that this shows free of cancerous cells on examination by a pathologist.

Spindle cell carcinoma

Spindle cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs and that contains long spindle-shaped cells. It is also called sarcomatoid carcinoma.


Treosulfan is a substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called alkylating agents. It has been used mainly as a substitute of busulfan in frail patients, as the side effects and toxicity are supposedly less severe.


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