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Office of Communications and Education

  • Updated: 03/15/2010


The National Cancer Act of 1971 mandated that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) establish an information dissemination program. The amendment of 1974 authorized expanded information dissemination activities for scientists, health professionals, and the general public and later legislative measures further expanded NCI's cancer information dissemination programs.


The Office of Communications and Education (OCE) advances the mission of NCI by disseminating research results to the public to improve the lives of those affected by cancer. Working closely with scientists and partners, OCE uses effective methods to reach diverse audiences and meet their needs for the latest, evidence-based cancer information.


OCE is the most trusted and valued resource for cancer communications strategy within NCI and for cancer information among the larger cancer community, providing the highest level of excellence, expertise, and services to the general public, the media, health professionals, and partner organizations.


The Office of Communications and Education (OCE) is located within the NCI Office of the Director. OCE consists of the following:

Director's Office

Lenora Johnson, Director
Nelvis Castro, Associate Director, Multicultural and International Communications

  • Office of the Director (OCE/OD)
  • Communications Planning and Coordination Branch (CPCB)
  • Business Operations Branch (BOB)
  • Communications Technology Branch (CTB)

Major Components

  • Office of Public Information and Resource Management (OPIRM)
  • Office of Partnerships and Dissemination Initiatives (OPDI)
  • Office of Cancer Content Management (OCCM)
    • Cancer Publications Branch (CPB)
    • International Cancer Research Databank Branch (ICRDB)
  • Office of Market Research and Evaluation (OMRE)
  • Office of Communications Services (OCS)

Information Products

  • NCI's Web site, - Winner of the prestigious Webby and FREDDIE Awards, the NCI's Web site serves as a primary point of access for cancer-related information for all of NCI's constituents.

  • Physician Data Query (PDQ®) - NCI's comprehensive cancer information database, PDQ, contains peer-reviewed information summaries about cancer treatment, screening, prevention, genetics, supportive care, and complementary and alternative medicine; more than 8,000 open and 19,000 closed clinical trials from around the world; and directories of physicians, genetics professionals, and organizations that provide cancer care. The International Cancer Research Databank Branch is responsible for managing PDQ.

  • NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms - This resource contains more than 6,800 cancer-related terms and is updated several times a month. Terms are also used to provide glossary support for patient-oriented information on NCI's Web site.

  • NCI Drug Dictionary - A dictionary that contains technical definitions, alternate names, and links to related information for approximately 2,300 agents that are being used in the treatment of patients with cancer or cancer-related conditions.

  • NCI Fact Sheet Collection - Brief, reliable, and authoritative information for the general public about numerous cancer-related topics; NCI Fact Sheets are frequently updated based on the latest cancer research.

  • What You Need To Know About Cancer series - Publications for the general public about individual types of cancer, written in simple language and including information about symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

  • Publications, including:

  • Visuals Online - NCI's image database, containing general biomedical and science-related images, cancer-specific scientific and patient care-related images, and portraits of directors and staff of the National Cancer Institute.

Services for NCI's Divisions, Offices, and Centers

  • Communications Strategy Planning - Staff within the OCE Office of the Director lead communications strategy and development for NCI. They work closely with OCE offices as well as other Divisions, Offices, and Centers across NCI to determine communications objectives, audiences, messages, and strategies for important initiatives. Staff can help identify channels and activities to reach particular audiences and then evaluate the results of the communications activities undertaken to inform planning and future initiatives.

  • Public Affairs Coordination - OCE represents the public face of NCI and organizes outreach programs and activities to inform and educate the public about NCI priorities. OCE promotes, disseminates, and reinforces messages about NCI's programs and goals both internally and externally. Cancer-related information is shared through the nationally known NCI Exhibit Program; an NCI Speakers Bureau; the NCI Event-Cal, which alerts staff about important cancer-related scientific meetings and conferences; and the management of NCI and OCE events. Staff facilitate the flow of information within OCE and across NCI through the OCEUpdate newsletter, Communications Strategy Roundtable meetings, and support for the Director's D-Brief messages.

  • Publications Support - OCE provides quality design and printing services; consulting services for printing, graphic design, and publications layout; and guidance on proper use of the NCI logo and the PDQ® trademark.

  • Audio/Visual and Photography Services - OCE provides photography, videography, and online visuals to Divisions, Offices, and Centers throughout NCI. Staff are available to photograph and videotape special events and to create videos, from scripting through production.

  • Web Site Design and Development - OCE serves as the design and development resource for NCI Web sites, including OCE is responsible for designing, developing, and maintaining the front-end interfaces and back-end infrastructures of existing and emerging technologies used to serve and other NCI content.

  • Exhibits Program - This program is a means for the Institute to have a visible presence at a variety of professional meetings. NCI exhibits are designed to inform basic and clinical cancer researchers and other health professionals about NCI programs, products, and services as well as to receive feedback from targeted audiences.

  • Library Services - The OC Library Online (LION) team supports the NCI Office of the Director and other areas of the Institute with news-alerting services, literature research, document retrieval, and document digitization services. OCE's library services and resources are available through the LION system on the NCI intranet.

  • Clearance - OCE provides clearance support for NCI's print and Web-based publications, ensuring the Institute's disseminations meet NIH and DHHS clearance requirements. It also serves as the NCI's point-of-contact for peer review requirements specified under the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB's) Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies (also known as the OMB Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review).

Services for the Cancer Community at Large

  • NCI Publications Locator - An online system for finding, viewing, and ordering NCI reports, publications, and other materials. Items can be retrieved by searching the system by topic, audience, language, and other categories. A catalog of available items, updated daily, can be printed for off-line use.

  • NCI's Cancer Information Service (CIS)  - Provides the latest and most accurate cancer information to patients, their families, the public, and health professionals.

    Cancer Information - The CIS provides personalized, confidential responses to specific questions about cancer.

    • By telephone: U.S. residents may call the CIS toll free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). CIS information specialists answer calls Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, in English or Spanish. Callers also have the option of listening to recorded information about cancer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • Chat: CIS information specialists also offer online assistance in English Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time through the LiveHelp link on NCI's Web site.
    • E-mail: CIS responds to e-mail from the online contact form or e-mail sent directly to For Spanish e-mail service, use the Spanish contact form or

    Tobacco Cessation - The CIS provides assistance to smokers who want to quit:

    • By telephone: U.S residents may call NCI's Smoking Quitline toll free at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848) between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Information specialists are available to answer smoking-related questions in English or Spanish.
    • Chat: Information specialists also offer online assistance to smokers in English Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time through the LiveHelp link on NCI's Web site and the Web site.
  • Public Inquiries Office - Responds to telephone, written, and e-mail inquiries about NCI's programs and activities and prepares correspondence and other materials in response to inquiries referred from NCI's DOCs, NIH and DHHS.

    • Contact Information:
      NCI Public Inquiries Office
      BG 9609 MSC 9760
      9609 Medical Center Drive
      Bethesda, MD 20892-9760


Programs within the Office of Communications and Education (OCE) are involved in several collaborations and partnerships that allow NCI to share communications resources and expertise with the larger cancer research, service, and advocacy communities. A few examples of these activities follow.

  • With partners such as the M.D. Anderson Community Clinical Oncology Program and chapters of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, OCE staff conducted training sessions about the clinical trial process and NCI resources.

  • OCE staff are providing content and technical guidance to France's new Institut National du Cancer for the development of a French national cancer clinical trials registry.

  • OCE staff are leading the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) Subgroup on External Registries in efforts to develop specifications for a standard format for data submission to registries such as PDQ and The aim is to facilitate direct submission of information by researchers and institutions, making use of clinical trial management systems where possible.

  • Service on the National Partnership for Comprehensive Cancer Control Core Committee and as faculty and facilitators at regional Comprehensive Cancer Control Leadership Institutes is extending NCI's reach into the community.

  • OCE staff have a leadership role in the International Cancer Information Service Group to help cancer organizations worldwide expand their cancer information services.

  • Collaborations on television productions such as ABC News' Quit to Live series and news segments for network and public news programs are helping NCI establish connections with media outlets and reach new audiences with important cancer information.

Contact Information

How to Reach the Office of Communications and Education

Phone: 240-276-6600
Fax: 240-276-7680
Office of Communications and Education
National Cancer Institute
9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 2E-532
Bethesda, MD 20892-9760