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NCI Research Overview

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is one of 11 agencies that compose the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The NCI, established under the National Cancer Institute Act of 1937, is the Federal Government's principal agency for cancer research and training. The National Cancer Act of 1971 broadened the scope and responsibilities of the NCI and created the National Cancer Program. Over the years, legislative amendments have maintained the NCI authorities and responsibilities and added new information dissemination mandates as well as a requirement to assess the incorporation of state-of-the-art cancer treatments into clinical practice.

The National Cancer Institute coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and the families of cancer patients. Specifically, the Institute:

  • Supports and coordinates research projects conducted by universities, hospitals, research foundations, and businesses throughout this country and abroad through research grants and cooperative agreements.
  • Conducts research in its own laboratories and clinics.
  • Supports education and training in fundamental sciences and clinical disciplines for participation in basic and clinical research programs and treatment programs relating to cancer through career awards, training grants, and fellowships.
  • Supports research projects in cancer control.
  • Supports a national network of cancer centers.
  • Collaborates with voluntary organizations and other national and foreign institutions engaged in cancer research and training activities.
  • Encourages and coordinates cancer research by industrial concerns where such concerns evidence a particular capability for programmatic research.
  • Collects and disseminates information on cancer.
  • Supports construction of laboratories, clinics, and related facilities necessary for cancer research through the award of construction grants.

Additional information on the National Cancer Institute can be found online at

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NCI Center and Division Research

Center for Cancer Research

The Center for Cancer Research (CCR) is home to more than 250 scientists and clinicians leading intramural research at NCI. CCR is organized into over 50 branches and laboratories, each one grouping scientists with complementary interests. CCR's investigators are basic, clinical, and translational scientists who work together to advance our knowledge of cancer and AIDS and to develop new therapies against these diseases. CCR investigators collaborate with scientists at the more than 20 other Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as with extramural scientists in academia and industry.

CCR is committed to supporting and training the next generation of cancer researchers, helping launch careers in basic/translational and clinical cancer research. The CCR and NCI offer a research environment that is second-to-none in quality of science and quality of life. All traineeships are intended to increase the number of scientists and physicians who specialize in basic, translational, or clinical biomedical research.


Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics

The Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) conducts population and multidisciplinary research to discover the genetic and environmental determinants of cancer and new approaches to cancer prevention.

DCEG's multidisciplinary research covers most types of cancer and many exposures in a variety of populations. Our cadre of in-house scientists - epidemiologists, geneticists, biostatisticians, and clinicians - form interdisciplinary teams to study complex questions. DCEG forms collaborative partnerships within the NIH/NCI intramural research program and with scientists at academic and medical institutions around the world, which enables it to carry out its research.


Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities

The Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) is central to the NCI's efforts to reduce the unequal burden of cancer in our society and train the next generation of competitive researchers in cancer and cancer health disparities research.

CRCHD initiates, integrates, and engages in collaborative research studies with NCI divisions and NIH Institutes and Centers to promote research and training in cancer health disparities research and to identify new and innovative scientific opportunities to improve cancer outcomes in communities experiencing an excess burden of cancer.

In addition, CRCHD:

  • Coordinates and strengthens the NCI cancer research portfolio in basic, clinical, translational and population-based research to address cancer health disparities
  • Leads NCI's efforts in the training of students and investigators from diverse populations that will be part of the next generation of competitive researchers in cancer and cancer health disparities research
  • Creates state-of-the-art regional networks/centers dedicated to cancer health disparities research and care through geographic program management


Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences

DCCPS aims to reduce risk, incidence, and deaths from cancer as well as enhance the quality of life for cancer survivors. The division conducts and supports an integrated program of the highest quality genetic, epidemiological, behavioral, social, applied, and surveillance cancer research. DCCPS-funded research aims to understand the causes and distribution of cancer in populations, support the development and delivery of effective interventions, and monitor and explain cancer trends in all segments of the population. Central to these activities is the process of synthesis and decision making that aids in evaluating what has been learned, identifying new priorities and strategies, and effectively applying research discoveries to reduce the cancer burden.


Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis

The multidisciplinary staff members of DCTD identify the most promising areas of science and technology for development of better diagnostic and therapeutic interventions for patients with cancer.

The division takes prospective detection and treatment leads, facilitates their paths to clinical application, and expedites the initial and subsequent large-scale testing of new agents and interventions in patients. By determining the highest priority questions that can be examined in the laboratory and through clinical trials, DCTD ensures that appropriate mechanisms and resources are available for the development of novel interventions for the wide range of cancers affecting children and adults.

DCTD scientists support programs to pursue high-risk research that may yield great benefits for patients with cancer but may be too difficult or risky for industry or academia to undertake. This includes a particular emphasis on the development of unique molecular signatures for cancer and molecular assays and imaging techniques that will guide oncologic therapy in the future.


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