Communications and Education: A Critical Part of NCI's Mission
NCI has always placed a considerable premium on communication and education - a philosophy that grew in prominence following the passage of the National Cancer Act, which directed NCI to develop methods for ensuring important research findings were disseminated to researchers and to the public.
By reaching out to the public, researchers, policy makers, nonprofit organizations, and advocates, NCI can have a more robust conversation about our priorities, accomplishments, and challenges. We do it through state-of-the-science symposia, our award-winning Web site, the NCI Cancer Information Service, numerous publications, advocacy teleconferences, science writers' seminars, and much more.
But we also recognize two things. First, that as technologies and therapeutic options become more complex, we need to develop new communications and educational tools for translating research findings into venues where they might help improve cancer outcomes. Second, particularly in the current fiscal environment, we must more efficiently and effectively take advantage of the expertise and experience we have within and outside the institute.
As a result, earlier this year two NCI offices, the Office of Communications and the Office of Education and Special Initiatives (OESI), were merged into the new NCI Office of Communications and Education (OCE). And it's my privilege to announce that I have named Lenora Johnson as the new OCE director.
Lenora has served as acting OCE director since the office's formation, and previously was OESI director. Before joining NCI in 2002, Lenora was the program director for the Directors of Health Promotion and Education. There she led numerous initiatives focused on reducing health disparities, global surveillance of health risk behaviors, and capacity building for health promotion and public health education. Organizations such as the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, the American Public Health Association, Kaiser Permanente, and many community-based organizations have implemented programs Lenora helped develop.
Working closely with senior NCI leadership, Lenora and her staff have done an incredible job of shepherding this new office through a significant reorganization - an action that should have profound benefits for NCI and our key stakeholders.
When completed, this reorganization will ensure that OCE staff are more closely plugged in to the scientific work going on across NCI's divisions and centers, a significant challenge in an organization with approximately 4,000 full- and part-time staff, many of whom are conducting research or managing large research portfolios.
The reorganization has been informed by a complete systems review of how OCE departments conduct their business, consultations with experts to develop more efficient management systems, surveys of external stakeholders, and meetings with national leaders in health communications and education.
OCE's management approach will reflect teamwork and cross-functionality, streamlining work and eliminating redundancies by implementing knowledge management systems and using evidence-based techniques for developing and disseminating materials, as well as optimizing our existing information delivery channels.
These efforts will improve NCI's ability to work with outside partners, allowing for more coordinated efforts in critical areas such as enhancing clinical trial recruitment, addressing survivorship and disparities issues, improving cancer services at the community level, and ensuring that all patients, regardless of their language or literacy, have information that they can understand and use to meet their cancer information needs.
With these changes, senior NCI leadership is confident that we can enhance what are already formidable communication and education programs and activities to better support the efforts of the entire institute.
Dr. John E. Niederhuber