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Message from the Center for Global Health's Interim Director

, by Dr. Robert Croyle

Robert T. Croyle, Ph.D., Interim Director, NCI Center for Global Health, Director, Division of Cancer Control & Population Sciences

I’m honored to serve as the Interim Director of NCI’s Center for Global Health (CGH). The Center’s many accomplishments under Ted Trimble’s leadership reflect NCI’s commitment to global health, a commitment that will be continued throughout and after this period of leadership transition. As NCI’s director, Ned Sharpless, begins a search for a new permanent director of the Center, I’ll be working closely with Lisa Stevens and Tom Gross, the Center’s deputy directors, and Doug Lowy, NCI’s deputy director, to assess the Center’s programs and commitments. We plan to clarify the Center’s mission and priorities, strengthen our alignment with NCI’s strategic scientific initiatives, and improve the Center’s communication with stakeholders both within and outside of government. Because one of the key functions of the Center is to facilitate coordination of NCI’s international research collaborations across the entire organization, we plan to enhance internal governance processes to increase the engagement of NCI’s divisions, offices, and centers in priority setting, implementation, integration, and evaluation of global health activities.  The growth of the Center and its activities over the past seven years also necessitates further development and improvement of the Center’s administrative operations.

As I’ve increased my familiarity with the entire breadth of CGH’s activities, I’ve been impressed and humbled by the scope and complexity of the challenges faced by NCI and the many other outstanding organizations that support scientific and policy work related to global cancer control. Clearly, the extensive array of international scientific collaborations already supported by NCI’s extramural grants and intramural programs can be leveraged to support and increase, where appropriate, the impact of science and health diplomacy. NCI has a long history of engagement with international organizations and global health philanthropies, and this will continue. At the same time, we want to ensure that we never lose sight of our core mission, conducting and supporting outstanding science.

The field of global health is characterized by a passionate commitment among scientists, practitioners, and policymakers to improving well-being in both developed and developing countries. Although NCI’s immediate constituency is the community of cancer scientists whose work is supported by the institute, we recognize the many opportunities for NCI to contribute to the information needs of patients, caregivers, providers, and policymakers through our communication and dissemination efforts. 

One of the accomplishments of the Center over the past few years has been to increase NCI’s engagement with the global health community, including the broader biomedical and public health research efforts beyond our borders. In these settings, we frequently hear the compelling need for cancer research training and technical assistance, the scale of which requires that we continue to rely on our partnerships with our 70 NCI-Designated Cancer Centers, the NIH Fogarty International Center, and our other government partners.  The challenge in all of these endeavors, of course, is prioritization. Given the breadth of collaborative opportunities, we will place the highest priority on those that are most likely to yield significant scientific advances that can inform global public health.

Throughout this journey, we have valued the input from our advisory boards and diverse constituencies. We also seek to maximize the lessons learned from previous and ongoing international collaborations.  For some activities, that will require a pause while we evaluate progress and impact. As a federal government agency, we are committed to transparency and accountability. Therefore, we’re utilizing this opportunity to reflect and prepare for new leadership. We welcome your input about how we can improve our programs and focus our efforts.

Successfully addressing the global burden of cancer requires both scientific progress and the more effective application of the evidence we have in hand. We are committed to doing our part and ensuring that the resources we apply are used to the very best effect.

Robert T. Croyle, PhD
Interim Director
Center for Global Health

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