Leischow Receives Award
Dr. Scott Leischow, acting associate director of NCI's Behavioral Research Program in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences will receive an NIH Director's Award at a ceremony on July 22. Dr. Leischow's outstanding contributions to the NIH include highly effective communications while testifying to Congress, IC directors, HHS staff, and leaders of advocacy organizations on tobacco-related issues. His outstanding leadership on behalf of NCI, NIH, and HHS on research concerning tobacco use, prevention, and cessation are also recognized with this award.
NLST Finalizes Enrollment
The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) has completed enrollment with 53,419 volunteers, more than 3,400 over its initial goal. The trial, which is comparing chest x-ray and spiral computer tomography (CT) to determine if one method is better than the other at reducing cancer deaths, had aimed to accrue 50,000 participants in 2 years. The first participants were enrolled in September 2002 and by January 2004, more than 6 months earlier than expected, 50,000 people had joined. The trial remained open to accrual after January only in sites that were either still screening participants for eligibility or participating in the archiving of blood, urine, and phlegm for studies of potential biomarkers or tumor markers. The 30+ NLST sites are now closed to recruitment.
Recruitment to the study was accomplished in partnership with the American Cancer Society, whose regional offices helped raise awareness of the trial in their communities. The study is funded by NCI and administered through the Division of Cancer Prevention via the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Trial screening network and the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis through a grant to the American College of Radiology Imaging Network.
Dennis Recognized for Lung Cancer Research
Dr. Phillip Dennis of NCI's Cancer Therapeutics Branch has been awarded the 2004 Alton Ochsner Award for his research showing that activation of the PI3K/Akt signal transduction pathway may be an early and important event in lung cancer formation and therapeutic resistance. The award will be presented at the annual convocation of the American College of Chest Physicians on October 28 in Seattle. The award honors Dr. Alton Ochsner, one of the founders of the Ochsner Clinic Foundation and the first person to recognize that cigarette smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer.
Garcia Recognized for Outreach
Dr. Roland Garcia, program director of NCI's Disparities Research Branch, was presented with the National Healthcare Hero Award in recognition of his leadership and commitment to improving patient access to quality health care. He was particularly commended for his outreach to underserved populations, specifically Native American and Alaska Native populations, with the goal of reducing the disparities in access to care.
Dr. Garcia was an inaugural recipient of this annual award, which was presented at the Patient Advocate Foundation's Fifth Annual Patient Congress on June 24. The Patient Advocate Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that serves as a liaison between patients and their insurers, employers, and/or creditors to resolve financial and other matters related to their diagnosis.
Flat NCI Budget Results in Funding of Fewer Competing New Training Grants
Although both the NCI allocation for training and the total number of funded training awards increased in 2004, the number of competing awards funded was significantly lower than in recent years. This paradoxical situation stems from NCI's ongoing commitments to existing continuing grants. Over the past 5 years while NCI's budget increased, the number of training awards also increased sharply. For FY 2004, funds available for new competing grants came from the completion of grants funded 5 years ago. The number of grants that ended was small in relation to the number of applications. To mitigate the impact of this effect, NCI allocated an additional $4 million for new awards.
Despite this increased allocation, fewer new and competing training awards will be made this year than in the previous 4 years. NCI will fund 71 K grants in 2004, including 23 awards to minority investigators, (compared with 124 in 2003), and 12 R25 grants (compared with 24 in 2003). In contrast, National Research Service Award grants did reasonably well. NCI anticipates similar difficulties in 2005, depending on the budget level appropriated. By 2007, the number of funded competing training grants should increase, since funding will then be based on turnover from the larger number of grants funded in more recent prior years.