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National Cancer Institute Questions and AnswersNational Cancer Institute Questions and Answers
  • Posted: 04/06/2000

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Special Populations Networks for Cancer Awareness Research and Training: Questions and Answers

Key Points

  • How does the Special Populations Networks project differ from the recently concluded NCI Leadership Initiatives within Appalachian, Black, and Hispanic populations? The Leadership Initiatives were focused solely on information dissemination and cancer awareness activities facilitated by volunteers. While continuing these activities, the Networks project focuses on establishing formalized partnerships to conduct research projects, promote the talent development of junior researchers, and increase minority participation in clinical trials. (Question 1)
  • How will communities benefit by this project? Communities will benefit from increased understanding of early screening and prevention, and the best cancer treatments will be made available through the clinical trials research process. (Question 2)
  • How did NCI choose which projects to fund? Applications were reviewed and scored for scientific and technical merit by an ad hoc extramural special emphasis panel. NCI program staff evaluated the peer-reviewed applications with a goal of geographic balance and diversity in funding. (Question 3)
  • Who was eligible to apply? Applications were submitted by domestic organizations, both public and private. Applications were encouraged from the former Leadership Initiatives projects (Appalachia, Black, and Hispanic), and from Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native American and other population subgroups throughout the country that focus on America's minority and underserved populations. (Question 5)
  1. How does the Special Populations Networks project differ from the recently concluded NCI Leadership Initiatives within Appalachian, Black, and Hispanic populations?

    The Leadership Initiatives were focused solely on information dissemination and cancer awareness activities facilitated by volunteers. While continuing these activities, the Networks project focuses on establishing formalized partnerships to conduct research projects, promote the talent development of junior researchers, and increase minority participation in clinical trials.

    For the first time, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and other underserved population groups throughout the country have grants for cancer awareness activities and research projects that are specific to their communities.

    Funding for the Networks project more than doubles that of the Leadership Initiatives; $12 million per year over five years have been made available to fund several large, multisite projects and a series of small, single-site projects.

  2. How will communities benefit by this project?

    Communities will benefit from increased understanding of early screening and prevention, and the best cancer treatments will be made available through the clinical trials research process. The Networks project aims to increase the probability that community-based minority researchers will establish linkages and receive the infrastructure support needed to help them compete successfully for peer-reviewed research funding. Communities will also benefit through improved community channels to NCI resources. It is expected that this will foster a greater focus on issues that affect minorities and the underserved, including health promotion efforts that respect cultural traditions. It is also expected that the perceived cancer prevention and control needs of the community will be heard and improved research projects designed to address those needs.

  3. How did NCI choose which projects to fund?

    Applications were reviewed and scored for scientific and technical merit by an ad hoc extramural special emphasis panel. NCI program staff evaluated the peer-reviewed applications with a goal of geographic balance and diversity in funding.

    Applications were scored on the following criteria:

    • scientific, technical, or demographic significance and originality of the proposed project;
    • appropriateness and adequacy of the approach and methodology proposed to carry out the project;
    • qualifications and experience of the staff;
    • availability of the resources necessary to perform the project activities;
    • appropriateness of the proposed budget and duration in relation to the proposed project;
    • viability of the applicant's link with academic institutions and direct channels of access to senior researchers and substantial numbers of minority and underserved students;
    • reasonableness of the proposed budget relative to the proposed activities;
    • merit and feasibility of any alternative activities proposed for the second and third phases;
    • appropriateness of methods and demonstrated willingness to work as part of the cooperative project and with the NCI program director;
    • potential for applicant effectiveness in reaching even the most difficult to access segments of the community;
    • adequacy of plans to develop and initiate pilot projects and their relevance to special populations; and
    • appropriateness of the evaluation methodology proposed relative to the type of program activity.
  1. What other programs does NCI have to address cancer research in minority populations?

    The NCI places a high value on incorporating scientific questions relevant to ethnic minority and underserved populations into the full spectrum of its research, including:

    • Surveillance programs that describe how certain cancers disproportionately affect specific special populations;
    • Cancer epidemiology and etiology studies that better define cancer risk factors;
    • Cancer prevention and control studies on specific interventions to lower cancer risk as well as assess screening technologies for early detection of cancer;
    • Clinical trials that evaluate drugs and new treatment modalities;
    • Basic research, the foundation on which all cancer progress rests, provides insights at the most basic molecular level, and informs efforts to improve treatment and prevention;
    • Information and outreach activities that provide the public with health messages and inform them about NCI resources;
    • Training, career development, and educational efforts to recruit minority and disadvantaged students into scientific vocations; and
    • Funding mechanisms and resources to support the NCI mission.
    • As part of the federal government's Department of Health and Human Services, the NCI recognizes the importance of cancer being one of the six focus areas in the Department's Initiative to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health.
  1. Who was eligible to apply?

    Applications were submitted by domestic organizations, both public and private. Applications were encouraged from the former Leadership Initiatives projects (Appalachia, Black, and Hispanic), and from Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native American and other population subgroups throughout the country that focus on America's minority and underserved populations. Successful applicants demonstrated a history of involvement with the community and presented qualified staff to direct the program. Collaborative applications were encouraged. Organizations that relied primarily on consultants to conduct the project were ineligible. Foreign organizations were not eligible and domestic organizations could not include international components.

  2. What Internet sites have more information?

    The full text of the Request for Applications (RFA) is available from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-CA-99-003.html

    More information on cancer research involving minority populations is available at http://crchd.cancer.gov/spn/overview.html

    More information on the DHHS Initiative to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health, including a minority health fact sheet, is available at http://www.omhrc.gov/omhhome.htm/

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