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 U.S. 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 J. Trump announced his intent to appoint Norman Sharpless as director of the National Cancer Institute.
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 at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland. The NCI receives more than $5 billion in funding each year.
The NCI played an early role in the discovery of anti-cancer drugs in the U.S. According to a 1996 NCI analysis of drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), two-thirds of the anti-cancer drugs approved as of the end of 1995 were NCI-sponsored Investigational New Drugs:
The NCI is divided into several divisions and 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.
The NCI cancer centers program was introduced in 1971 with 15 participating institutions.
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. NCTN also stores surgical tissue from patients in a nationwide network of tissue banks at various universities.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
|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.|
|Andrew C. von Eschenbach||2002-2006||12th Director, served from 2001 to 2006 before transitioning to a role as Commissioner of Food and Drugs.|
|John E. Niederhuber||2006-2010||13th Director of the NCI, was nominated by President George W. Bush.|
|Harold Varmus||2010-2015||Co-winner of the Nobel Prize for studies of the genetic basis of cancer. He was director of the National Institutes of Health from 1993 to 1999.|
|Douglas R. Lowy (Acting)||2015-|