NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
March 2, 2004 • Volume 1 / Number 9 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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NCI's Web Site Redesign
A redesign of the NCI Web site ( is in progress, with a launch scheduled for June 2004. The proposed new design reflects extensive user research and is intended to help all site visitors more readily find the information they need. Please go to to see a few of the redesigned Web pages. The sample pages will be available at this URL through March 19. Your comments can help NCI make important refinements. Please use the e-mail link at to provide feedback.

NCI-Supported Researchers Receive MERIT Awards
Four NCI-supported researchers were recently honored with MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time) Awards. These National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards honor researchers who have demonstrated superior competence and outstanding productivity in research endeavors. The awards provide long-term support to investigators with impressive records of scientific achievement in research areas of special importance or promise. Less than 5 percent of NIH investigators are selected to receive MERIT Awards.

New NCI awardees are: Dr. William H. Fenical, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego; Dr. Stephen P. Goff, Columbia University Medical Center; Dr. Benjamin G. Neel, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University; and Dr. Timothy A. Springer, CBR Institute for Biomedical Research, Harvard University.

For more information on MERIT Awards and for a list of all NCI researchers who have received this award, see

NCI Hosts Science Writers' Seminar
NCI will host a special Science Writers' Seminar at the National Press Club on March 9 for reporters nationwide. The topic will be the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid - caBIG: Achieving the Promise of Molecular Medicine.

Scientists are creating a groundbreaking new research infrastructure that has the potential of fundamentally changing how cancer research is conducted. Through a partnership with the cancer community, NCI is developing a biomedical electronic informatics network that will generate a library of interoperable cancer research tools and data. NCI director Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach will speak at the seminar. Dr. Ken Buetow will give an overview of caBIG, Dr. Jo Anne Zujewski will discuss early-phase breast cancer clinical trials and describe the grid's value for clinicians conducting those trials, and Dr. Howard Fine will discuss how this initiative will support a national protocol for molecular diagnostics of brain tumor samples.

Space is limited to credentialed press only, but everyone can view the seminar via a live Webcast at

Scientists Focus on Tobacco Products
On February 26 and 27, researchers and federal officials assembled in Washington, D.C., to discuss ways to study new tobacco products that are purported to be less harmful than others on the market. Sponsored by NCI, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the meeting featured presentations by these institutes and centers, as well as by the FDA and researchers from throughout the United States.

While there is increasing interest by both pharmaceutical and tobacco companies in developing products that decrease the health risks in smokers, there currently are no standard methods to conduct studies to assess risk reduction from these products, nor is there agreement regarding which biomarkers should be assessed to determine whether the use of new products actually decreases risk.

The introduction of these products and the fact that approximately 440,000 people in the United States die of tobacco-related diseases each year underscores the need to develop new product testing methods and validated biomarkers of exposure and harm. Investigators interested in pursuing these questions are encouraged to review two reports relevant to these issues. The first is a report from the Institute of Medicine, Clearing the Smoke: The Science Base for Harm Reduction. The second is the NCI Monograph, Risks Associated with Smoking Cigarettes with Low Machine-Measured Yields of Tar and Nicotine. Dr. Peter Shields of the Lombardi Cancer Center discussed many of the complex scientific challenges facing investigators in an article in the Oct. 2, 2002 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.