National Cancer Institute NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
January 8, 2013 • Volume 10 / Number 1


In Memoriam: Dr. Elwood V. Jensen

Dr. Elwood V. JensenDr. Elwood V. Jensen

Dr. Elwood V. Jensen, who discovered that hormones bind to receptor proteins in cells, died December 16 at the age of 92. His research led to the development of treatments that enhance or inhibit the effects of hormones and, according to the Lasker Foundation, this work "transformed the treatment of breast cancer patients and saves or prolongs more than 100,000 lives annually."

Dr. Jensen graduated from Wittenberg College in 1940 and completed his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Chicago in 1944. Three years later, he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago as an assistant professor of surgery. At that time, researchers believed that hormones underwent a series of chemical reactions that led to the production of enzymes that affect cells.

In 1958, Dr. Jensen found that estrogen remains chemically unchanged once inside the cell. He also showed that estrogen binds to a hormone receptor that migrates to the nucleus and turns on specific genes.

By 1968, Dr. Jensen had developed a test to detect estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells. He and his colleagues found that about one-third of breast cancers have estrogen receptors and may depend on estrogen for growth. Testing the estrogen receptor-status of cancer cells is now standard for patients with breast cancer.

In the 1970s, Dr. Jensen and Dr. V. Craig Jordan showed that women with estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) breast cancer benefited from tamoxifen (Novaldex), a drug that binds to the estrogen receptor and inhibits the binding of estrogen. The Food and Drug Administration approved tamoxifen for the treatment of breast cancer in 1977 and for the prevention of breast cancer in 1990.

Dr. Jensen was an original member and later director of the University of Chicago's Ben May Department for Cancer Research. From 1983 to 1987, he served as medical director for the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Zurich, Switzerland. Dr. Jensen also spent time at the National Institutes of Health, Cornell Medical College, the University of Hamburg, and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. In 2002, he joined the University of Cincinnati, where he was the George J. and Elizabeth Wile Chair in Cancer Research. He continued his research there until late 2011.

Dr. Jensen was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1974 and was a co-recipient of the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 2004.

NCI Central Institutional Review Board Receives Accreditation

The Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP) recently awarded the NCI Central Institutional Review Board (CIRB) full accreditation. The CIRB provides a review process that can streamline local IRB reviews of national multicenter cancer treatment trials.

AAHRPP awards accreditation to organizations demonstrating the highest ethical standards in clinical research. Accreditation establishes that the NCI CIRB has robust review processes in place to ensure the safety and protection of people who participate in NCI-funded clinical studies.

The NCI CIRB is also changing to an independent review model. Under this model, research sites in different locations that have joined the NCI CIRB can rely solely on the CIRB to meet all IRB regulatory requirements, instead of undergoing a local IRB review.

A pilot study performed at 22 sites that conduct clinical research showed that participants enthusiastically supported the independent model. This model further reduces the administrative burden on local IRBs and investigators, shortens the time needed to start accruing participants, and, as a result, allows institutions to offer more clinical trials.

The change is part of the NCI national clinical trials network restructuring, which aims to reduce the length of time it takes to complete cancer clinical trials and bring new cancer treatments to patients. 

Cyber-Seminar: Using State Cancer Profiles for Cancer Control

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The January 15 NCI Research to Reality (R2R) cyber-seminar will discuss how to use State Cancer Profiles for cancer control research and practice to make a local impact.

The State Cancer Profiles website provides a system to identify the cancer burden in a standardized way to motivate action, integrate surveillance into cancer control planning, and expose health disparities. The website provides interactive graphics and maps that help researchers and practitioners decide where to focus cancer control efforts.

Antoinette Percy-Laurry of NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences will provide an overview of the tool, highlight recently added features and measures, and describe how the tool can be used.

Amanda Raftery, of the Indiana State Department of Health, and Wendy Noe, of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Central Indiana Affiliate, will share their experiences using State Cancer Profiles to develop and implement cancer control plans and programs in Indiana.

For more information and to register, visit the R2R website, where you can join discussions. All R2R cyber-seminars are archived on the website about 1 week after the presentation. For more information on the cyber-seminar series, please e-mail

Summary of NCI Funding Patterns for FY2012 Available

In fiscal year 2012, NCI received 4,143 applications for R01 research grants, of which 618 (or approximately 15 percent) received funding. R01 grants are the most common type of NIH research grant.

Charts and a table summarizing the overall funding patterns for R01 and R21 grants by various categories of investigators are available online.

Chart showing success rate of NCI grant applications NCI FY2012: "Percentiled" R01 Applications, Awards and Success Rates