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Past Highlights

Director's Update Archive: 2007

    View 2008 Archive of Director's Updates
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  • 12/18/2007 - Making Progress in Difficult Times Will Require a Collective Effort
    "No individual is alone responsible for a single stepping stone along the path of progress." This remark by Nobel Prize winner Ernest Lawrence comes to mind as we take stock of all that happened during this past year in cancer research.
  • 12/04/2007 - Communications and Education: A Critical Part of NCI's Mission
    NCI has always placed a considerable premium on communication and education - a philosophy that grew in prominence following the passage of the National Cancer Act, which directed NCI to develop methods for ensuring important research findings were disseminated to researchers and to the public.
  • 11/20/2007 - NCI-Frederick's Unique Combination of Resources and Flexibility
    NCI-Frederick is much more than a satellite campus of NCI. It is a unique biomedical research resource and one of only 36 Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) in the country. These facilities are not part of the government, but are operated by universities and nonprofit corporations under federal contracts. They fulfill some of our country's pressing research needs by bridging public and private sectors. FFRDCs study a variety of defense and national security issues, but only one FFRDC - NCI-Frederick - is devoted solely to biomedical research.
  • 11/06/2007 - HIV/AIDS Research at NCI: A Record of Sustained Excellence
    The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the disease it causes, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), announced itself in the United States in 1981, in the form of a small, sudden uptick in reports of a rare cancer, Kaposi sarcoma (KS), and a rare form of pneumonia among young gay men in New York and San Francisco. That same year, in the NIH Clinical Center, NCI physicians treated the first patient with this deadly, yet-to-be-named disease.
  • 10/23/2007 - With caBIG, the Cancer Community Goes "Interoperable"
    The ability to connect people, organizations, and data through information technology is critical to fulfilling NCI's mission and to taking advantage of the research opportunities offered by 21st century science. Launched in 2004, the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG) was designed to be an information network that would allow the cancer research community to share data and knowledge and, in so doing, accelerate the discovery of new approaches to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • 10/09/2007 - Advancing Cancer Control Science to Improve Public Health
    This issue of the NCI Cancer Bulletin highlights and celebrates the research, actions, and partnerships of NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS), which this month is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its founding.
  • 09/25/2007 - In Memory of Dr. Martin Abeloff
    On Friday, September 14, 2007, the cancer community lost one of its truly outstanding leaders. Dr. Martin Abeloff, who directed the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University for the last 15 years, died after a year-long battle with leukemia.
  • 09/11/2007 - Creating a Bridge to Success
    Improving the translation of promising laboratory findings into the clinic is a top NCI priority. One of the most important mechanisms by which NCI helps bring new interventions to patients and clinicians is the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which was created by Congress to strengthen the role of small, innovative companies in federally supported research and development.
  • 08/21/2007 - The Imperative of Improving Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates
    A study published last October in Cancer modeled how different scenarios - each of which took into account changes in screening, risk factors, and optimal use of chemotherapy - would influence mortality rates from colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death. In every scenario, mortality was decreased by varying degrees over the next two decades, but in each case the most influential factor was improved screening rates.
  • 08/07/2007 - Trial Breaks New Ground in Collaborative Research
    Last month a teenage girl from Indiana became the first patient enrolled in an important early-phase NCI clinical trial at the NIH Clinical Center. Diagnosed with an aggressive form of a rare cancer, hereditary medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), this young woman will help determine whether the investigational agent vandetanib may be the first effective nonsurgical treatment in young patients with this cancer.
  • 07/24/2007 - Tackling Cancer Care Disparities in the Community
    The theme of this issue of the NCI Cancer Bulletin is cancer health disparities, in conjunction with NCI's Cancer Health Disparities Summit 2007 held last week.
  • 07/10/2007 - Moving Ahead with Translational Research
    The recent release of the final report of the Translational Research Working Group (TRWG) and its approval by the National Cancer Advisory Board, marks an important milestone for NCI. After 2 years of work, we're hopeful that TRWG's recommendations, along with activities already taking place as a result of recommendations made 2 years ago by the Clinical Trials Working Group (CTWG), will lead to more rapid progress in translating important research findings into new, effective interventions.
  • 06/26/2007 - Challenges in Cancer Prevention
    Despite many decades of investigation and progress that's been made in early diagnosis and treatment, the exact causes of most cancers remain unknown. For most of the cancers we treat, there exists a heterogeneous mix of genetic changes and numerous potential environmental influences that challenge the development of simple prevention strategies.
  • 06/12/2007 - ASCO 2007: Steady Progress Against Cancer
    On June 1-5, Chicago played host to this year's American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting. This year set an attendance record with more than 30,000 participants. Throughout the meeting one sensed the excitement of steady, continued progress. There was also anticipation of even greater changes that will occur in the coming years as laboratory science is enabled by new and rapidly evolving technology. The anticipation was clearly about earlier diagnosis, new and reliable biomarkers, highly characterized tumors, and more targeted therapies.
  • 05/29/2007 - CPTI Will Help Realize the Promise of Proteomics
    There are many in the cancer research community who believe proteomics has tremendous potential, particularly for the early detection of disease.
  • 05/15/2007 - Celebrating Women's Health
    As we are all aware, last Sunday was Mother's Day. Fittingly, it was also the first day of National Women's Health Week, an annual opportunity to educate women about important health screenings and to encourage them to take advantage of every opportunity to prevent diseases like cancer.
  • 05/01/2007 - An Honor to Help Foster Progress at NCI
    It was nearly 20 years ago when I first came to NCI, spending 2 years conducting basic research on lung cancer at the U.S. National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. I eventually took a post abroad in the Netherlands, but I am elated to return to NCI as the new chief of the Medical Oncology Branch in the Center for Cancer Research (CCR).
  • 04/17/2007 - Supporting Quality Research Remains NCI's Top Priority
    I had the opportunity once again to provide the NCI Director's update at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Los Angeles.
  • 04/03/2007 - Cancer Information for Hispanics and Latinos
    More and more Americans are surviving cancer and are continuing to live productive lives. However, many Hispanics and Latinos in the United States have not heard this message, and they have not benefited from advances in early detection and treatment. NCI's new Spanish-language Web site (, launched yesterday, strongly communicates the message that cancer can be prevented and treated, in addition to offering information on all aspects of the disease.
  • 03/27/2007 - Strong Leadership for Scientific Progress
    I am very pleased to announce that Drs. Robert H. Wiltrout and Lee Helman have been appointed as Scientific Directors (SD) of NCI's Center for Cancer Research (CCR). Both have been serving in acting roles: Dr. Wiltrout as the SD for CCR and Dr. Helman serving under him as the SD for Clinical Research. Drs. Wiltrout and Helman have filled these positions superbly on an acting basis for the last several years.
  • 03/20/2007 - NCI Surveillance Program Helped Project Oncologist Shortage
    The leadership of ASCO should be commended for sponsoring the AAMC report on the U.S. oncology work force. The conclusions they reach are clearly concerning: A potential shortage of 2,550 to 4,080 oncologists in the United States by 2020.
  • 03/13/2007 - Building a Molecular Foundation for Cancer Prevention
    In this issue of the NCI Cancer Bulletin, we offer a closer look at cancer prevention research. It's an enormous topic, but I think you'll see as you read that, beyond what we already know about behavior change and cancer prevention, the field is transitioning toward studies that delve into the molecular foundations of health and disease.
  • 03/06/2007 - Proposed Tobacco Legislation Underscores Need for Research
    The remarkable decline in smoking rates over the past several decades is a testament to the excellent work of many in the cancer and public health communities. But that does not mean our work on this front is complete.
  • 02/27/2007 - NCI's Epidemiologic Research on Benzene Contributes to New EPA Rule
    Since the British surgeon Percivall Pott reported in 1775 on the high frequency of scrotal cancer among chimney sweeps, studies of occupational groups have been instrumental in the discovery of environmental carcinogens and the development of preventive measures. In modern times, regulatory agencies have depended to a considerable extent on epidemiologic studies in the workplace in formulating public health policies to control hazardous exposures among both workers and the general population.
  • 02/20/2007 - Mapping the Cancer Genome
    The following captures some of the highlights from an article in the March 2007 Scientific American magazine that I wrote with National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Director Dr. Francis Collins. It represents one of the first detailed discussions of The Cancer Genome Atlas in a publication that is widely read by a variety of audiences.
  • 02/14/2007 - NCI Budget Update
    Last Tuesday I gave members of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) an update on the status of NCI's budget that I'd like to share with the entire cancer community.
  • 02/06/2007 - DCLG's Status Enhanced Under Director's Office Restructuring
    One of the most important changes being instituted as part of the restructuring of the NCI Office of the Director is the new direction of the Director's Consumer Liaison Group (DCLG).
  • 01/30/2007 - Breast Premalignancy Research Bolstered by Database on Healthy Tissue
    Developing a better understanding of the healthy breast is critical to our efforts to identify biomarkers and other diagnostic and therapeutic tools for use against early breast cancer. At last week's steering committee meeting of the NCI Breast Cancer Stamp Premalignancy Research Program, we heard about a new program that addresses the key issue of our limited understanding of the biology and normal developmental genetics of the mammary gland.
  • 01/23/2007 - Good News on Cancer Deaths Underscores Progress
    Last week, the entire nation received the excellent news that, for the second year in a row - and for only the second time ever - the actual number of cancer deaths in the United States fell.
  • 01/16/2007 - Reflecting on Progress
    This week we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Although he is often remembered for his work in the area of social justice, he understood very clearly the significance of health equality. "Of all forms of inequity, injustice in health is the most inhumane," Dr. King once stated.
  • 01/09/2007 - SEER: Research Power in Numbers
    NCI's Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program is a powerful cancer research tool that has served as the basis for thousands of studies. Innovative use of SEER data has produced additional statistics such as cancer prevalence, which is important to national estimates of cancer survivorship.
  • 01/03/2007 - Director's Office Reorganizing to Better Support NCI
    With budgets declining in 2005, 2006, and now, apparently, in 2007, there has been an absolutely essential NCI-wide effort to downsize. This process has, of course, affected our extramural grantees, but every effort has been made - and continues to be made - toward downsizing the infrastructure that supports the activities of the Institute, as well. For example, efforts are underway to improve work efficiency, to ensure that we are spending every infrastructure support dollar wisely, and to streamline how specific NCI offices work together as a team, so that we can continue to respond to changing needs, both within and outside the Institute. We recognize that the realities of a decreasing annual appropriation, the increasing demands of an expanding extramural research community, and the changes at NIH resulting from the recent passage of the NIH reauthorization bill require immediate action.
    View 2008 Archive of Director's Updates
    View 2006 Archive of Director's Updates
    View 2005 Archive of Director's Updates
    View 2004 Archive of Director's Updates
    View 2003 Archive of Director's Updates

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