NCI, NIH Officials Discuss NIH Roadmap with
Cancer Organization Leaders
Speaking at a meeting last week of representatives from major cancer organizations and NCI and NIH officials, NCI Director Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach encouraged the cancer community to stay attuned to the NIH Roadmap initiative. Cancer centers and individual researchers should "stay engaged" in what is happening with the Roadmap, he advised, and "be proactive" in applying for grants and other opportunities offered through the NIH Roadmap initiative.
Representatives from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Association for Cancer Research, and Association of American Cancer Institutes attended the meeting. Dr. Dushanka Kleinman, NIH's assistant director for Roadmap coordination, said the meeting was the first of its kind between an NIH institute and some of its key constituent groups.
Dr. J. Carl Barrett, director of the NCI Center for Cancer Research and the NCI liaison to the NIH Roadmap effort, explained that the opportunities available through the Roadmap are grouped according to three themes: new pathways to discovery, research teams of the future, and reengineering the clinical research enterprise.
The new pathways to discovery component includes a focus on the development of "molecular libraries," imaging technologies, and bioinformatics, Dr. Barrett explained. The emerging field of nanomedicine also falls under this area, with opportunities for funds to launch "nanomedicine centers."
The formation of multi- and interdisciplinary teams is being encouraged via the Roadmap's research teams of the future component. "We have talked a lot about this approach at NCI," Dr. Barrett said. "I expect this part of the Roadmap to generate a wealth of ideas." The clinical research reengineering component of the initiative addresses the need for creating better integrated networks of academic centers and enhanced training, among other efforts.
Leaders from the organizations noted that they had received questions and heard concerns from their members about the Roadmap initiative, including whether cancer researchers have a bona fide role in Roadmap activities and how the application review process will work.
Drs. von Eschenbach, Barrett, and Kleinman acknowledged that the Roadmap is an ongoing process and that there are still unanswered questions and issues to work through. However, as much as any other area of biomedical research, cancer researchers and centers have the potential to play a significant role in the initiative, they said.
The Roadmap is not an all-encompassing effort to overhaul every aspect of biomedical research, Dr. von Eschenbach stressed. Meetings such as this one - which he described as "just a beginning" - are important because they will help the cancer community understand the Roadmap's goals and processes. "I'd hate for confusion to end up in missed opportunities," he said.
Visitors to the Roadmap Web site, http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/, are encouraged to sign up for the listserv to receive updates on RFAs and other Roadmap activities.