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Past Highlights

Director's Update Archive: 2004

    View 2008 Archive of Director's Updates
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    View 2003 Archive of Director's Updates

  • 12/14/2004 - A Year to Remember
    We launched the NCI Cancer Bulletin this past January to better communicate the myriad activities that constitute the cancer research enterprise at NCI and beyond. Of course, no single publication can adequately capture the enormity of the work being done to defeat the malignancies that we collectively call cancer. Rather, our intention was to provide an authoritative voice that helps those who are committed to defeating cancer stay abreast of some of the most important NCI-supported activities that affect them or their loved ones.
  • 12/07/2004 - Annual Budget Proposal Provides Insight into NCI Priorities
    It is with great hope for the future that I have submitted to Congress The Nation's Investment in Cancer Research (available at, NCI's plan and budget proposal for fiscal year 2006. This proposal reflects efforts to acquire and apply the resources and programs to achieve our challenge goal to the nation - to eliminate suffering and death due to cancer by 2015.
  • 11/30/2004 - Progress on HPV Vaccine Offers Great Hope to Developing Countries
    Data published earlier this month have created an opinion among many in the public health and research communities that we are on the brink of significantly eliminating the threat of cervical cancer. This would be a public health boon to many developing countries, which bear the brunt of the 230,000 annual deaths from this cancer.
  • 11/23/2004 - Achieving Success and Addressing Challenges in Tobacco Control
    In the landmark 1964 U.S. Surgeon General's report on smoking and health, then-Surgeon General Dr. Luther L. Terry called for "appropriate remedial action" to combat smoking and its detrimental effects. Over the last few weeks, we have seen the cancer community's continued dedication to combating the smoking scourge, and witnessed the impact it has had.
  • 11/16/2004 - Collaboration with CMS Breaking New Ground in Cancer Clinical Trials
    One of NCI's important successes over the past several years has been the establishment of partnerships with other government agencies to help improve service to the public. The announcement earlier this month about expanded coverage by Medicare for several NCI-sponsored clinical trials is an excellent example of collaborations between sister health agencies to promote better cancer care.
  • 11/09/2004 - Addressing the Global Challenge of Cancer
    The global burden of cancer is large and projected to grow larger. Each year there are approximately 10 million new cancer cases and more than 6 million deaths worldwide. In many developed countries, including the United States, cancer accounts for more than 20 percent of all deaths. In less developed countries, all-site cancer rates are generally lower and cancer accounts for a lower percentage of deaths. However, it is within developing countries that cancer is projected to increase most rapidly over the next few decades.
  • 11/02/2004 - Improving the Efficacy of Pediatric Cancer Trials
    One of the most challenging aspects of conducting clinical trials in pediatric populations is making decisions about which of the many new anticancer agents under development to test. Although treatment of childhood cancers is one of the most remarkable success stories in all of medicine - nearly 80 percent of children diagnosed with cancer survive 5 years or more - if we are to expand on that progress and ensure that every child who develops cancer has a legitimate chance of survival, we must address this issue.
  • 10/26/2004 - Clinical Trial System of Future
    The recent voluntary recall of rofecoxib (Vioxx) by Merck & Co., Inc., illustrates all too well the importance of well-designed clinical trials and vigilant surveillance for any new drug or medical product. Some 3 years after FDA approval and widespread use, rofecoxib was found to be associated with a two-fold increased risk of cardiovascular toxicities in people who took the drug for 18 months or longer in a clinical trial to prevent colon adenomas. The recall has resulted in the careful review of any cardiovascular effects of other drugs in the class of drugs known as COX-2 inhibitors.
  • 10/19/2004 - Nutrition: A New Frontier in Cancer Research
    The obesity epidemic has generated intense concern in the medical community, and rightfully so. It has had devastating consequences for our nation's health and health care system, driving rates of several chronic illnesses into the stratosphere and heaping tens of billions of dollars onto an already strained health care budget. And as we are beginning to better appreciate, obesity has also significantly affected cancer incidence, progression, and death rates.
  • 10/12/2004 - Adapting the Translational and Clinical Infrastructure to Meet Tomorrow's Challenges
    In an analysis of cancer trends over decades, 5-year survival of patients with cancer has risen from approximately 20 percent in 1935 to 50 percent in 1971 to 64 percent by 2003. Although increased screening during this interval has influenced these survival trends, a very reliable endpoint, the number of cancer deaths per 100,000 Americans, has also been falling since about 1990.
  • 10/05/2004 - Cancer Centers: A Source of Hope and Confidence
    In my position as NCI director, I continue to be heartened by the fervor in the cancer community for the daily progress we are making against this disease. Yesterday, I had the privilege to receive a double dose of this enthusiasm at the University of Colorado Cancer Center (UCCC), where I toured an impressive 12-story, 600,640-square foot, new cancer research facility at UCCC and participated in the Tour of Hope event being held there.
  • 09/28/2004 - Where Cutting-Edge Science Meets Patient Care
    With the opening of the new Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Center on the NIH campus, I can't help but think that this next-generation facility will be the site of new research breakthroughs, led in large part by researchers from the NCI Center for Cancer Research (CCR).
  • 09/21/2004 - Communication: An Important Cornerstone of Success
    Last week NCI released its inaugural annual report, The Nation's Progress in Cancer Research for 2003, available at This new communication tool describes some of the successes from NCI-supported research published in late 2002 and 2003 - highlights that are representative of the discovery, development, and delivery continuum and illustrate the progress we are making toward the 2015 goal.
  • 09/14/2004 - Realizing the Promise of Nanotechnology
    Yesterday marked the official launch of the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, an initiative that I believe could be a transformational event that moves the science of nanotechnology from a promising medical application to a central component in a new era in the diagnosis, monitoring, prevention, and treatment of cancer.
  • 09/07/2004 - A Vital Connection to the Cancer Community
    One of the most effective ways in which NCI interacts with the cancer community is through our advisory boards. Next week, for instance, the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) will meet for the third time this year. Among the advisory boards and committees to NCI, the NCAB plays a unique role. The NCAB advises both NCI leadership and the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services with regard to the Institute's strategic plan and its intramural and extramural research activities. The committee's 18 members are appointed by the President.
  • 08/17/2004 - Patient Navigator Program Reduces Cancer Health Disparities
    A major gap exists in the cancer discovery-development-delivery continuum for many Americans. Discovery and development research typically results in beneficial procedures for cancer prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment that are intended for all Americans. Health disparities arise when the delivery system does not provide access to timely, standard cancer care to everyone who needs it.
  • 08/10/2004 - Refashioning the Clinical Trials System for a New Era of Opportunity
    Robust, extensive, formidable: All of these terms aptly describe the system of clinical trials that underpins clinical cancer research in the United States. Our cancer clinical trial system is, in many respects, the envy of most research establishments; it has helped to save and/or extend the lives of millions of people in the United States and, no doubt, around the world.
  • 08/03/2004 - Working Group Maps the Way to Healthier Women Worldwide
    On July 27, along with the Advisory Committee to the Director, I had the privilege of receiving the report and recommendations of the Women, Tobacco, and Cancer Working Group during a teleconference with the working group's co-chairs, distinguished scientists Drs. Ellen R. Gritz and C. Tracy Orleans.
  • 07/27/2004 - In Cancer Research Today, Success Breeds Success
    Advances in cancer research and treatment are truly gratifying things to witness, which is why I'm extremely excited about the prospects for important new advances heralded by a study published recently in Science.
  • 07/20/2004 - The Tumor Microenvironment: Providing Important Clues to Metastasis
    Cancers become most deadly when they metastasize, yet finding ways to combat metastasis has been a significant Achilles heel of cancer research. But our growing understanding of the role that a tumor's "microenvironment" plays in metastasis may allow us to shift the tide.
  • 07/13/2004 - SPOREs: A Force in Translational Research
    One of the central components of NCI's efforts to move new interventions to patients more quickly is the Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs). The SPOREs program is a true success story. When the program was launched in 1992, there were 8 SPOREs for 3 cancer sites; there are now 61 SPOREs for 14 cancer sites. In 1995, there were 3 SPORE-operated clinical trials; in 2004, there are 120.
  • 07/06/2004 - Measuring Our Progress on Prostate Cancer
    Prostate cancer is an ideal example of the successes, challenges, and setbacks we have experienced in our efforts to eradicate cancer. Prostate cancer remains the most common cancer overall and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men. And, unfortunately, African American men continue to be disproportionately affected by prostate cancer to a significant degree.
  • 06/29/2004 - Cancer Survivorship: Activities and Research Looking Beyond the Cure
    For the National Cancer Institute (NCI), June has been a month of great excitement and progress in cancer survivorship research.
  • 06/22/2004 - The Early Detection Research Network: Advancing Detection and Prediction Science
    Five years ago, NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention set out to create a strong, investigator-driven network to conduct translational research to identify tests for early cancer and cancer risk. In early 2000, the Early Detection Research Network (EDRN) became a fully funded group of 28 grantees focused on the overarching goal of creating validated biomarkers ready for large-scale clinical testing. Now, in 2004, EDRN has come to fruition as a broad, interdisciplinary group with the partnerships for advancing science for public benefit.
  • 06/15/2004 - Charting Our Progress: Targeted Therapies Coming into Their Own
    The words "targeted therapy" were on everybody's lips last week at the 40th annual ASCO meeting. And with good reason. Encouraging results were reported in a number of clinical trials, proving that we are making progress in our efforts to attack cancer at its most fundamental levels.
  • 06/08/2004 - Report to the Nation Highlights Progress, Challenges
    The annual ASCO meeting, which concluded today in New Orleans, is always an exciting time for the cancer community. Results from many significant studies are released, and researchers and clinical oncologists from the United States and many other nations learn from leading experts about changes in treatment, the latest in prevention and diagnostics, and, increasingly so these days, advances in the area of survivorship.
  • 06/01/2004 - An Executive Commitment to Reducing the Cancer Burden
    As the baby boomer generation marches toward retirement age, we face the very real prospect of an influx of patients into our health care system with a significant disease burden, including cancer, stroke, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Even within the existing working population, however, the disease burden is very real. Cancer, for example, is the leading cause of death in the work force today.
  • 05/25/2004 - Oncology Nurses: Something Special
    Those of us in the cancer community consistently hear a special story from patients and their families. It is about that "one terrific nurse" and how he or she helped the patient and family get over the shock of diagnosis, learn about what would come next, handle the rough patches of treatment a little better than they otherwise might have - and all with a delicate human touch.
  • 05/18/2004 - Trans-Institute Angiogenesis Research Program Launched
    In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved bevacizumab (Avastin) as a first-line treatment for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. The approval marked the arrival of an intervention in which the primary mechanism of action is angiogenesis inhibition.
  • 05/11/2004 - Providing Support for Children and Their Families
    As we all are painfully aware, cancer can devastate a family. But as many of us have seen, those who have suffered through a bout with cancer or lost a loved one to cancer often respond by trying to help others like them.
  • 05/04/2004 - Conference Affirms Priorities, Strategies for 2015
    "An investment in knowledge," said Benjamin Franklin, "always pays the best interest." Perhaps without officially proclaiming it, this has been the cancer community's mantra.
  • 04/27/2004 - A Model for Addressing Health Care Disparities
    In late March, the trans-HHS Cancer Health Disparities Progress Review Group (PRG) released its report, Making Cancer Health Disparities History. The report includes recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) intended to significantly reduce cancer health disparities in the United States.
  • 04/20/2004 - Collaboration Driving Progress in Survivorship
    One of the most rewarding aspects of my position as director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has been the opportunity to witness the emergence of vital new initiatives and areas of research. In particular, it's been gratifying to see the rapid evolution of research into the needs, problems, and realities of cancer survivors.
  • 04/13/2004 - CIRB to Be Extended to Support Pediatric Trials
    The annual spring meeting of the Children's Oncology Group (COG) was held in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, and I had the privilege of learning about some of the exciting work that COG researchers are currently conducting.
  • 04/06/2004 - A Strong Foundation for Progress Against Cancer
    The news last week was replete with excellent research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in Orlando.
  • 03/30/2004 - Enabling Technologies Will Help Pave Way to 2015
    Since NCI announced its challenge goal to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer by 2015, I have been asked on numerous occasions, "How are we going to do it?" The answer is as simple as it is complex.
  • 03/23/2004 - Cooperative Group Chairs Visit Bethesda
    On March 17, the Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Chairs came to NCI to continue an ongoing dialogue about re-engineering the cancer clinical trials infrastructure to improve the publicly funded cancer clinical research system.
  • 03/16/2004 - Annual Cancer Center Directors' Retreat
    On Monday, March 8, National Cancer Institute (NCI) convened a cancer centers directors' retreat in which 59 of 61 NCI-designated cancer centers participated. The purpose of the retreat was to discuss future opportunities and challenges and the critically important role that the cancer centers play in the National Cancer Program.
  • 03/09/2004 - Nanotechnology: Building Cross-Disciplinary Research Teams to Enable Advanced Technologies
    Over the past year, NCI has been developing several major strategic advanced technology initiatives - including the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG), proteomics, biomarkers, and nanotechnology - to accelerate progress across the cancer discovery, development, and delivery continuum.
  • 03/02/2004 - RPG Funding Policies for FY 2004
    There has been some confusion in the grantee community about our R01 policy and whether the cuts might represent a reduction of support from a grantee's current award level. I hope this message corrects any misunderstandings, and clarifies the rationale behind our decisions.
  • 02/24/2004 - Molecular Epidemiology: A Time for Strategic Partnerships
    Epidemiology has been depicted as a scientific approach that moves slowly, but with great force. However, by incorporating the powerful new tools being generated by recent advances in genomics and molecular sciences, epidemiology has an unparalleled opportunity to move more quickly and with greater force than ever.
  • 02/17/2004 - National Survey Data Released for Analysis: How Americans Seek and Use Cancer Information
    The continuing expansion and development of information delivery systems has given people access to cancer information from numerous sources, each varying substantially in quality and reliability.
  • 02/10/2004 - Helping Every Smoker Who Would Like to Quit
    Last week, at a press conference attended by Surgeon General Richard Carmona, CDC Director Julie Gerberding, and me, HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson affirmed his strong opposition to tobacco and announced plans to take another important step in the ongoing effort to address the burden of tobacco use in this country.
  • 02/03/2004 - R01 Pay Line for 2004: 20th Percentile
    Last week, President Bush signed into law the FY 2004 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. This legislation included the appropriations bill that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, including all NIH agencies.
  • 01/27/2004 - New Lecture Series Highlights Innovative Collaboration, New Breakthroughs
    The cancer community has proven that it is willing and able to dedicate tremendous amounts of energy and resources to our efforts to prevent and treat cancer. It is only recently, however, that we have begun to appreciate that combining this diligence with a strategic focus on collaboration will advance our efforts at a far more rapid pace.
  • 01/20/2004 - Energy Balance: The Complex Interaction of Diet, Physical Activity, and Genetics in Cancer Prevention and Control
    At a time when nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population is considered overweight or obese, compelling evidence suggests that excess body weight is a risk factor for many cancers.
  • 01/13/2004 - Pancreatic Cancer Research: New Tools Will Aid Larger Efforts
    Last month brought new hope to the research community in the form of two studies focused on genetically engineered mouse models of pancreatic cancer.
  • 01/06/2004 - Setting a New Path for Cancer Research
    On December 23, 2003, the cancer research field marked the 32nd anniversary of the start of our Nation's war on cancer. On that date in 1971, President Nixon signed the National Cancer Act into law.
    View 2008 Archive of Director's Updates
    View 2007 Archive of Director's Updates
    View 2006 Archive of Director's Updates
    View 2005 Archive of Director's Updates
    View 2003 Archive of Director's Updates

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