Guest Update by Dr. John E. Niederhuber
Strategic Plan Focuses Research Efforts
Today marks the release of a document that's the culmination of a tremendous amount of work and deliberation over the past few years: an NCI Strategic Plan that outlines the strategies for achieving NCI's goal of eliminating the suffering and death due to cancer.
This plan is intended to guide the efforts of the entire cancer community as we strive to remove the barriers to progress and accelerate the delivery of effective interventions that span prevention and early detection to advanced disease.
The strategic plan is a result of many months and hundreds of hours of work by NCI scientists, as well as consultation with advisory committees and the research and advocacy communities.
In 2002 and 2003, NCI leadership worked across the institute to identify strategic priorities, crosscutting research considered instrumental for accelerating progress. In 2004, NCI leadership began to develop a strategic plan, using the strategic priorities as the foundation from which we worked.
The plan is rooted in two primary aims: preempting cancer at every opportunity and ensuring the best outcomes for all. From there, it lays out the strategies by which we believe we can achieve these aims and the specific research avenues covered by these strategies.
For example, accelerating progress in prevention is one of the cancer preemption strategies. As the plan details, one way we believe this can be accomplished is by developing a transdisciplinary systems approach - research teams that merge expertise in the lab, clinic, and epidemiology - to explore the biology behind cancer prevention.
Simply put, this plan brings the global picture of cancer research - SPOREs, Cancer Centers, individual laboratory and clinical investigators, consortiums, and advanced technologies - into a tight focus. It will direct our efforts and ensure that, regardless of where a research program or project falls in the discovery-development-delivery continuum, it contributes to seamless, integrated, and continuous progress.
The strategic plan is an important new addition to what is now a trilogy of documents that describe the National Cancer Program. The others are the annual Nation's Progress in Cancer Research and the Nation's Investment in Cancer Research, sometimes called the bypass budget. The first publication provides accountability for our activities, documenting significant milestones in cancer research from the previous year, while the latter lays out the NCI budget request to Congress for the following fiscal year.
It's gratifying to present the NCI Strategic Plan to the cancer community. We believe it will stimulate ongoing deliberation and assessment at NCI and in the research and advocacy communities. I'm confident that it will further integrate and focus the entire National Cancer Program, ushering in an era of unprecedented progress. As with any good strategic plan, we view this one as a work in progress, and we will endeavor to be responsive to changing public health needs and to scientific and technological opportunities that come our way.