NCI Leadership: A Model for Success
Last week in this space I provided a general overview of how we are recasting NCI's leadership structure, creating a management team headed by four deputy directors with whom I will work to guide NCI and the national cancer program through the exciting and demanding times ahead. This week I would like to provide a little more detail about NCI's leadership structure, to give further insight into how we make the decisions that will enable researchers to continue to make discoveries that are improving cancer patients' lives every day.
While the deputy directors play a central role in integrating NCI's many components, the institute's division and center directors have full managerial and executive responsibility for their operational units. They manage the resources under their purview and are accountable for all initiatives and activities in their respective areas.
The NCI Executive Committee (EC) includes the deputies, division directors, and center directors. The EC meets twice a month and conducts much of the executive function associated with the operational and business aspects of NCI. This includes managing the grants payline, reviewing new and recompeting concept proposals, addressing trans-NCI policy issues affecting personnel and resources, and alerting the director and deputies to emerging issues that may affect NCI resources. The EC is the central body for formulating NCI's strategic initiatives and priorities. Two subcomponents of the EC are the extramural and intramural division directors, who are charged with addressing operational issues that predominantly or uniquely affect their respective communities.
A recent change related to NCI's management plan was the establishment of Implementation and Integration (I/I) teams. Membership of these new teams is drawn from across NCI, depending on the specific area. The group's specific charge is to complement our strategic priorities with the development of a resource management plan that takes into account current investments, future needs, scientific opportunity, and potential partnerships. As additional I/I teams form, more NCI staff will have the opportunity to participate in these cross-cutting, high-priority activities.
In the coming months, we will be realigning some of the activities within the Office of the Director (OD), requiring the deputy directors to assume more responsibility for expanding and enhancing the effectiveness of the OD. Two such realignments have occurred in the past several months: Dr. Anna Barker, deputy director for Advanced Technologies and Strategic Partnerships, assumed responsibility for activities carried out by the Office of Technology and Industrial Relations, the Technology Transfer Branch, the Office of Cancer Genomics, and the Center for Bioinformatics; and Dr. Mark Clanton, deputy director for Cancer Care Delivery Systems, now oversees the operations of the Office of Science Policy and Assessment.
The past few years have been a time of tremendous challenge and, on occasion, upheaval. But as I said at the recent meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board, NCI has never had as many opportunities as we have today and, although limited, our financial resources are at the highest level ever attained and our intellectual capital is extraordinary. We have a talented and dedicated staff, and a cadre of extramural researchers, cancer centers, and advocates who are committed to seeing a day when cancer has been eliminated as a cause of suffering and death. Such a team can never be denied victory and so we move forward to our goal, confident in our success but cognizant of the challenges.
Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach