Skip to main content
An official website of the United States government

A Timeline of the Division of Cancer Biology Milestones

For more than 25 years, the Division of Cancer Biology (DCB) has been supporting progress in basic cancer research as an extramural division of NCI. This timeline shows some of the programs, research, and events of DCB over time.

2022: DCB Investigator-Initiated Research

Factoid highlighting that 92% of DCB's portfolio budget supported investigator-initiated basic cancer research projects

2021 - 2022: DCB Research Programs

DCB research programs were initiated to examine the development of cancers, the role of the tumor microenvironment in pancreatic cancer, metastasis, and acquired resistance to cancer therapies. These initiatives include:

2020: Start of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency as a result of confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection.

During this time, DCB staff continued to work from home to advance basic cancer research and supported NCI COVID-19 research initiatives.

2019: DCB Managed R01 Research Grants

Factoid highlighting that there was a 38% increase in R01 applications from investigators in the basic cancer biology community from 2012-2019.

2017: Launch of the Cancer Moonshot

Many DCB staff were involved in launching the Cancer Moonshot. As leaders and members of Cancer Moonshot Implementation Teams, they helped develop research initiatives in response to the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel.

2016: Changes to DCB Organization

The Tumor Biology and Metastasis Branch was divided into the Tumor Biology and Microenvironment Branch and the Tumor Metastasis Branch, based on the growth in this research area.

2014 - 2016: DCB Research Programs

DCB research initiatives were launched to address challenging questions in cancer biology using physical sciences, engineering, molecular characterization approaches, and systems biology, as well as to improve the development of models for cancer research. These programs include:

2014: Establishment of Cancer Immunology, Hematology, and Etiology Branch

The Cancer Immunology and Hematology Branch was merged with the Cancer Etiology Branch into the Cancer Immunology, Hematology, and Etiology Branch since both research areas involved interactions with the immune system.

2011: Barrett's Esophagus Translational Research Network (BETRNET)

This program, supported by DCB and the NCI Division of Cancer Prevention, was established to address the rising incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma in the United States.

2009: Exploratory/Developmental Grants Program for Basic Cancer Research in Cancer Health Disparities

Funding Opportunity: Basic Research in Cancer Health Disparities

Interested in conducting basic research in the biological/genetic causes of cancer health disparities? Apply for FOA PAR-21-322.

This ongoing program, supported by DCB and the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, was started to support basic research studies investigating the causes and mechanisms of cancer health disparities.

2006: Tumor Microenvironment Network (TMEN)

The main objectives of TMEN were to delineate mechanisms of tumor-stroma interactions in cancer and to generate a comprehensive understanding of the roles of stroma in tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis. objectives of TMEN were to delineate mechanisms of tumor-stroma interactions in cancer and to generate a comprehensive understanding of the roles of stroma in tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis.

2004: Integrative Cancer Biology Program (ICBP)

The ICBP promoted the application of a systems- or integrative- biology approach to the study of cancer. The goal of the program was to create reliably predictive computational models of various cancer processes that could be used to generate more rationally designed interventions for preventing, detecting, and treating cancer.

ICBP ran for 10 years and was the precursor to the Cancer Systems Biology Consortium (CSBC). For more information, please reference the detailed summary of the program.

2003: DCB Think Tanks

DCB held a series of Think Tanks to identify emerging concepts and promising opportunities for investigation across nine scientific areas with unusual promise for rapid progress:

  • Cancer Susceptibility and Resistance
  • Cell Decision Making Mechanisms
  • Epigenetics
  • Etiology in Cancer
  • Inflammation and Cancer
  • Integrative Cancer Biology
  • Tumor Immunology
  • Tumor Microenvironment
  • Tumor Stem Cells

2002: NIGMS and NCI Structural Biology Facility at the Advanced Photon Source

NCI, NIGMS, and the Argonne National Laboratory signed an agreement to build new biological research capabilities (i.e., beamlines for structural biology research) at the Advanced Photon Source.

DCB manages the beamline for NCI, which has a significant amount of beamtime dedicated for the use of its grantees.

2001: Launch of the New Grantee Workshop

The goal of this DCB workshop was to help new grantees make the transition from early stage/new investigators to established investigators. Since this initial meeting, it has been held every year and has been attended by over 1000 new grantees.

1999: Mouse Models of Human Cancer Consortium (MMHCC)

Through extensive discussions with cancer researchers, NCI identified the crucial need for improved animal model systems to inform all aspects of cancer research and improve patient outcomes. To address this issue, DCB created a program to foster the high-risk efforts needed to develop accurate, reproducible mouse models of human cancers.

The consortium continued for 15 years (through 2014) and a 2009 report about the program was published in Disease Models and Mechanisms.

1998: Activities to Promote Research Collaboration (APRC)

Factoid highlighting that 437 collaborations were supported through activities to promote research collaboration between 1998-2010.

1995: Bishop-Calabresi Report

Based on the recommendations of the Bishop-Calabresi Report by an Ad Hoc Working Group of the National Cancer Advisory Board, DCB was established as part of the NCI Extramural Research Program. The division was initially organized into the Office of the Director and 5 branches:

  • Cancer Biology
  • Cancer Immunology
  • Biological Carcinogenesis
  • Physical and Chemical Carcinogenesis
  • Radiation Effects
  • Posted:

If you would like to reproduce some or all of this content, see Reuse of NCI Information for guidance about copyright and permissions. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product's title; e.g., “A Timeline of the Division of Cancer Biology Milestones was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.”