NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
October 11, 2005 • Volume 2 / Number 39 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Guest Commentary by Michael Milken

NCI Milestones Help Fulfill 500-Day Plan

Michael LeavittNext month, I will reach 300 days on the job as Secretary of Health and Human Services - three-fifths of my first 500 days in office. I've greatly valued the opportunity to serve the American people, and I'm looking forward to meeting with the employees and leaders in the HHS family of agencies, including the talented and committed people at NCI.

NCI staff have provided important input to my 500-Day Plan. The Plan was developed to help the entire Department focus on actions we can take to benefit the American people within the first 500 days of a 5,000-day horizon. It is based on the concept of anticipating our next steps, instead of simply reacting.

This is a concept that NCI staff practice every day. The strategic initiatives already taken by the Institute will enhance several key objectives in my 500-Day Plan. Let me highlight a few of those programs.

Transforming the Health Care System

NCI's cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG) addresses the goal of fostering collaboration to advance biomedical research and patient care. It will bring researchers together via an Internet-based system through which they can gather and share data. This will increase the strength and scope of research done in caBIG-participating centers. It will also allow the deduction of broader and more meaningful conclusions that will rapidly create improved patient outcomes. caBIG's partnerships with almost 100 organizations around the country have the potential to be useful beyond the cancer research community.

NCI also supports community-based approaches to closing the health care gap faced by many disadvantaged and minority populations. A good example is NCI's Patient Navigator Program, in which community advocates help cancer patients get health care services.

Advancing Medical Research

NCI and its grantees continue to lead in research advances. A key example is NCI's commitment to the goal of improving the clinical research network to advance prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Implementation of the recommendations from NCI's Clinical Trials Working Group will ensure that drugs and other interventions are promptly evaluated, reducing the time for proven interventions to reach patients.

I also applaud NCI's Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer. This is a comprehensive, systematized initiative encompassing the government and the free market, designed to accelerate the application of the best capabilities of nanotechnology to cancer.

Improving the Human Condition Around the World

NCI continues its exemplary role in health diplomacy that is so vital to promoting democracy and freedom around the world.

The Institute's mentorship of the Middle East Cancer Consortium (MECC) is an excellent example of scientific outreach. As part of its involvement, NCI is providing extensive training to MECC members including Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, and Turkey.

NCI's studies in Costa Rica on a vaccine to prevent infection with human papillomavirus - which causes about 70 percent of all cervical cancers worldwide - holds the promise of eradicating this deadly cancer in many developing countries.

With the help of NCI and other HHS agencies, I believe the 500-Day Plan will make a difference in the lives and health of many people. I invite you to learn more by visiting

Michael Leavitt
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services