NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
January 27, 2004 • Volume 1 / Number 4 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Director's Update

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. The continued collaboration of NCI and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - including initiatives such as our work on proteomics beginning in 1997 and the recently announced initiatives such as a common bioinformatics infrastructure - stands as a shining beacon in this regard.

It should be no surprise then that, when the decision was made to begin a new lecture series, the NCI Director's Seminar Series, I asked FDA Commissioner Dr. Mark B. McClellan to be the inaugural speaker. The goal of the series is simple: to provide a venue for national health care leaders to detail the extraordinary advances that are shaping the prevention and treatment of cancer. As NCI works toward achieving its challenge goal of eliminating the suffering and death due to cancer by 2015, it is more important than ever that we ensure the continued exchange of ideas to keep the cancer community informed about the breadth of work being done to achieve this ambitious but achievable goal. Since becoming FDA commissioner, Dr. McClellan has shown an intense commitment to being a true agent of change at the FDA and a leader in the fight against cancer, and I am excited that he will help NCI kick off this important new series on February 2 at 9:00 a.m. in Masur Auditorium.

In his lecture, entitled "Confronting Cancer through Collaboration and e-Health Technologies," Dr. McClellan will discuss several of the joint NCI/FDA initiatives, as well as the promise of electronic medical information and FDA's initiatives to speed the development of new drugs and therapeutics to patients. Indeed, NCI's collaborations with the FDA are examples of a new standard for interaction between agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services. Our effort will ultimately take all cancer research to a new plateau by strengthening the research and regulatory infrastructure and ensuring that promising molecularly targeted drugs and other novel agents in the pipeline make their way from the bench to the bedside as quickly as possible.

The NCI/FDA collaborations are pioneering the use of information technologies and fostering innovative ideas that are promoting translational research. Under the most recently announced initiative, for example, NCI and FDA will work with the research community to develop a system for electronically submitting investigational new drug (IND) applications to the FDA via the Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid project. NCI and FDA also are launching new cancer fellowship training programs aimed at developing a corps of physicians and scientists who are experts in clinical research, as well as in the regulatory approval process and translating research breakthroughs into clinical practice.

NCI and FDA also are working closely together on several other initiatives, including:

  • Developing clinical trial management software that will improve communications between cancer researchers and the FDA.
  • Developing biomarkers for evaluating new cancer treatments and a standard approach for evaluating them.
  • Continuing collaboration on a clinical proteomics program.
  • Creating common data standards for clinical research data.

This is far from collaboration for collaboration's sake. NCI and FDA have made a genuine commitment to enhancing our relationship and reaching out to the entire cancer community. I believe that we will see gains from this collaboration that will have an immediate impact on patient care, and I am confident that, over the long term, this collaboration and those with industry and academia will spur us toward achieving the challenge goal of eliminating suffering and death from cancer by 2015.

Mark your calendars now for the next featured lecturers of the NCI Director's Seminar Series. Carl B. Feldbaum, president of Biotechnology Industry Organization, will speak on March 19 at 2:00 p.m., and Dr. Julie Louise Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will speak on September 16 at 1:00 p.m. Both lectures will be held in Masur Auditorium on the NIH campus. All NCI Director's Seminar Series lectures will be webcast at

Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D.
Director, National Cancer Institute

For more information on the Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid visit: