NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
March 7, 2006 • Volume 3 / Number 10 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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A Conversation With...Dr. John Niederhuber

How was the NCI Strategic Plan developed?
What is striking to me about this plan is how expansive the input was. About 125 scientists from each division and center worked for 15 months to come up with the long-range NCI Strategic Plan. The process began in 2003, when almost 200 possible strategic goals were identified. From these, the NCI Executive Committee, which includes the directors of each division and center, with feedback from our staff, advisory boards, and members of the advocacy and research communities, pared down and consolidated those suggestions into the eight objectives in the strategic plan.

The community's feedback was essential. Their ideas came from a number of priority-setting efforts, including Progress Review Groups, think tanks in cancer biology, NCI Listens and Learns, and review of the Nation's Investment in Cancer Research.

Dr. John Niederhuber Why is the strategic plan necessary?
Why aren't the strategic priorities enough?
The strategic priorities define areas of focus and investment that will generate new data and research tools. The strategic plan builds on those priorities, specifying broad research areas through which we will develop and apply interventions for preventing and controlling cancer. It describes the research that underpins the strategies for improving early detection and diagnosis, for example, or improving the quality of care.

The success of the plan will depend on several things. For example, we must integrate all of our research efforts. What we learn in the clinic not only must be translated into new or better treatments, but must also inform the next generation of discovery and development. We also must leverage our resources. We must forge more partnerships, establish more collaborations, and look for synergies in public and private research efforts.

How will the strategic plan affect how NCI operates?
In several ways. It will serve as a guideline for the development of RFAs and PAs, and help organize how we measure and report progress.

It's already had an impact. The process of developing the strategic plan influenced the creation of an "enterprise fund" of dollars redeployed from the divisions' budgets. That fund will be used to support research projects that cut across all divisions and centers. It also led to the development of the Integration Implementation, or I2, teams, of which there are three so far: advanced imaging, bioinformatics, and lung cancer.

A final point to emphasize is that the strategic plan is a guide. We understand that circumstances change: Opportunities present themselves, research provides new insights that alter how we think about things like diagnosis or treatment. We are committed to being flexible, to taking advantage of opportunities, and to working with the entire cancer research community to achieve 2015.