National Cancer Institute NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
October 6, 2009 • Volume 6 / Number 19

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NCI Recognizes Clinical Investigators with New Team Leadership Award

NCI has announced the recipients of its new Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award:

Dr. Jordan Berlin, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
Dr. Jeffrey Clark, Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center
Dr. Steven Devine, Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dr. Jeffrey Lancet, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
Dr. Robert Maki, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Dr. Wells Messersmith, University of Colorado Cancer Center
Dr. Julian Molina, Mayo Clinic
Dr. Melanie Royce, University of New Mexico Cancer Center
Dr. Christopher Ryan, Oregon Health & Science University
Dr. Melanie Thomas, Hollings Cancer Center
Dr. Antonio Wolff, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins

Designed for midlevel clinical investigators, the awards provide recognition and funding for those who lead cancer research programs at academic cancer centers. Eleven clinical investigators are being recognized for their exceptional contributions to the advancement of effective new therapies through their collaborative team science approach within NCI-funded clinical trials. The 2-year award provides investigators with partial salary support for their leadership roles in clinical trials at NCI-designated cancer centers.

The awards are the result of one of the recommendations of NCI’s Clinical Trials Working Group (CTWG), which was established to advise the institute on methods to improve and enhance the publicly funded clinical trials enterprise. The goals of the awards are to offer support and provide academic recognition to investigators who promote collaborative team science. The broad clinical trials community, including the Clinical Trials and Translational Research Advisory Committee and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, provided input into the development of this award.

“We are truly excited to be able to recognize these key clinical investigators without whom we couldn’t conduct clinical trials,” said Dr. Sheila Prindiville, director of NCI’s Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials, the office that oversees implementation of the CTWG’s recommendations. “These recipients have exceptional leadership skills in cancer clinical trial activities and have demonstrated a commitment to conducting cancer clinical trials that promise to advance care for patients.”

The initial phase of the program funds 11 awards of $50,000 in each of the next 2 years. The funding is provided to the recipient’s institution and can be applied toward the investigator’s salary, fringe benefits, and associated facilities and administrative costs. Recipients are expected to devote 10 to 15 percent of their time to the activities associated with the award.

The awards are a new source of funding to support clinical research for those leading NCI-sponsored clinical trials who are not principal investigators, a group that tends to be overlooked by funding opportunities and recognition.

The awards, available to investigators at all NCI-designated cancer centers participating in NCI-funded collaborative clinical trials, ultimately support a shared culture in which investigators collaborate freely across disciplines, institutions, and programs to most expeditiously advance the design and conduct of cancer clinical trials.

Learn more about how NCI is restructuring the national cancer clinical trials enterprise online.

Recovery Act Funds Made Available to Expand NCCCP

NCI Community Cancer Centers Program logo

Last week, NCI Director Dr. John E. Niederhuber announced plans to use funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support the NCI Community Cancer Centers Program (NCCCP). A Request for Proposals (RFP) has been posted online to add approximately 14 new sites and another RFP will be posted on FedBizOpps later this week to enhance work at existing NCCCP sites.

The NCCCP is a pilot program that has formed a national network of community cancer centers to expand cancer research and deliver the most advanced cancer care to people in the communities where they live. Started in 2007, the NCCCP involves 16 community hospitals located primarily in rural, small-town, and underserved urban areas in 14 states.

To explore how NCI-designated cancer centers can implement partnerships with hospital-based community cancer centers using the NCCCP model, approximately half of the awards will be made to NCI-designated cancer centers in partnership with freestanding community hospital cancer centers; the remaining awards will be made to freestanding facilities. NCI will also allocate funds to current NCCCP hospitals for 2 years for 18 specific projects encompassing clinical trials, disparities, community outreach, biospecimen collection, electronic health records, quality of care, partnerships with state cancer plans, communications, survivorship, and palliative care.

Questions about the RFPs should be addressed to Roger Lewis.

UC Berkeley Cancer Researcher Wins 2009 MacArthur Fellowship

Dr. Lin He Dr. Lin He

Dr. Lin He, a cancer researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, received a 2009 MacArthur Fellowship for her work studying how microRNAs are involved in converting normal cells into cancer cells by interrupting the p53 tumor suppressor mechanism, which normally stops replication or induces suicide in cancer cells. 

Dr. He earned her Ph.D. at Stanford University in 2003, completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2007, and joined the faculty at UC Berkeley in 2008.

MacArthur Fellowships are awarded each year to approximately 20 or 30 people “who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction,” according to the fellowship program Web site.

MacArthur Fellows receive unrestricted quarterly research subsidies totaling $500,000 over the course of 5 years—money that is viewed as “an investment in [the recipient’s] originality, insight, and potential,” rather than a reward for past accomplishments. Fellows are nominated by peers in their respective research fields and selected by a committee comprising leaders in the arts, sciences, humanities, and for-profit and non-profit sectors.

Dr. Thomas Waldmann Awarded Service to America Medal

Dr. Thomas Waldmann Dr. Thomas Waldmann

Dr. Thomas Waldmann, chief of the Metabolism Branch in NCI’s Center for Cancer Research, was one of nine public servants who received a Service to America Medal on September 23. Dr. Waldmann received the Career Achievement Medal for cutting-edge discoveries made during his 52-year career. He joined NCI in 1956 and has been chief of the Metabolism Branch since 1973. Dr. Waldmann studies the IL-2/IL-2 receptor system in the growth of normal and neoplastic cells. His work has led to effective treatments for previously fatal forms of T-cell leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, and multiple sclerosis.

The Service to America Medals program honors the best in the federal workforce and works to inspire a new generation to consider public service careers by sharing recipients’ stories with the general public. Winners were nominated by colleagues familiar with their work and selected by a committee that included members of Congress, journalists, a university president, and leaders of several prominent philanthropic organizations. Nearly 400 nominations were submitted for medal consideration this year.

NIH FARE 2010 Awards Announced

The Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE) awards ceremony was held this afternoon to recognize outstanding scientific research by intramural fellows at NIH. Seventy-one of this year’s 236 winners are fellows from NCI’s Center for Cancer Research, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, and Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics.

Each winner received a $1,000 travel award to present their research at a scientific meeting during FY 2010 and was asked to serve as a judge for the following year’s competition. FARE winners will present posters on their research during the NIH Research Festival, being held October 6–9 on the NIH main campus.

The annual NIH-wide FARE competition is sponsored by the NIH Fellows Committee, Scientific Directors, NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health, and NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education.

A complete list of the 2010 FARE award recipients can be found online.

President's Cancer Panel Explores Effects of Demographic Change on Cancer

President’s Cancer Panel logo

The President’s Cancer Panel held the first meeting of its 2009–2010 series, “America’s Demographic and Cultural Transformation: Implications for the Cancer Enterprise,” on September 22 in Seattle, WA. The panel heard testimony from a variety of experts in health demography, biostatistics, and social justice, including public health professionals, research scientists, physicians, and community advocates.
The panel explored the effects of a rapidly changing population on cancer care in the United States. Growing minority populations, particularly in Hispanic groups, and the disappearance of a majority group were widely predicted by experts. The speakers focused particularly on health disparities that exist across race, socioeconomic status, and education level, and noted that underserved populations are disproportionately minority, impoverished, and undereducated. They also acknowledged that health disparities will persist as long as underlying social injustices of poverty and racism continue. The panel will consider speaker recommendations in writing their 2009–2010 report to the President. The panel will continue to hear testimony on the effects of the changing U.S. population on cancer care and research at three future meetings:

October 27, 2009 - Los Angeles, CA
December 9, 2009 - Wilmington, DE
February 2, 2010 - Miami, FL

NCI to Host Forum Connecting SBIR Companies and Potential Investors

NCI’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Development Center will sponsor the first NCI SBIR Investor Forum on November 5 at Boston University. The event is designed to connect investors and strategic partners with the most promising SBIR companies developing breakthrough discoveries that are primed for commercialization. These innovative developments will be the next generation of cancer therapeutic, imaging, diagnostic, and other important technologies in the fight against cancer.

This full-day conference will feature the top 10 to 15 NCI SBIR companies focused on innovative research in cancer-related technologies, private breakout sessions to explore prospective partnerships, opportunities to discuss upcoming funding and opportunities with NCI SBIR Development Center staff, and a networking reception with leaders in the life sciences and medical technology arena to foster new collaborations.

Registration is free, but seating is limited. For more information, go online or contact Deepa Narayanan or Patti Weber.

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