NCI Overview

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Who We Are

  • The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the federal government's principal agency for cancer research and training.
  • We are part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is one of 11 agencies that comprise the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
  • We are located on the NIH campus at 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892, with satellite offices in Rockville and Frederick, MD.
  • We are a team of almost 4,000 people.

What We Do

The NCI coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and the families of cancer patients. Specifically we:

  • Provide research grants and cooperative agreements to coordinate and support research projects conducted by universities, hospitals, research foundations, and businesses throughout this country and abroad.
  • Conduct research in our own laboratories and clinics.
  • Support education and training in fundamental sciences and clinical disciplines for participation in basic and clinical research programs and treatment programs relating to cancer through career awards, training grants, and fellowships.
  • Support research projects in cancer control.
  • Support a national network of cancer centers.
  • Collaborate with voluntary organizations and other national and foreign institutions engaged in cancer research and training activities.
  • Encourage and coordinate cancer research by industrial concerns where such concerns demonstrate a particular capability for programmatic research.
  • Collect and disseminate information on cancer detection, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, control, palliative care, and survivorship.
  • Support construction of laboratories, clinics, and related facilities necessary for cancer research through the award of construction grants.
  • Support the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research - the only federally funded research and development center dedicated exclusively to biomedical research.

NCI’s role in Cancer Research page gives a more detailed description of many of these activities.

How We Are Funded

As a federal agency, NCI receives its funds from Congress. Most of our budget is used to fund grants and contracts to universities, medical schools, cancer centers, research laboratories, and private firms in the United States and about 60 other countries around the world. These funds also support research at the Institute’s headquarters in Bethesda, MD, and in laboratories and medical centers throughout the United States and in other countries.

Our Impact

Because of the work of NCI scientists and cancer researchers throughout the United States and the rest of the world, real progress is being made against cancer. In the United States, the rate of new cancer cases overall has been declining since 1999, and the rate of cancer deaths overall has been decreasing for more than a decade. These trends reflect improvements in cancer treatment and advances in technology that have led to better tools for understanding, detecting, and diagnosing cancer. People with cancer are living longer and have a better quality of life than ever before. In 2012, there were about 14 million cancer survivors in the United States.

Our Future

The cancer research community—under the leadership of the NCI—is poised to accelerate the rate of scientific discovery and reduce the burden of cancer in the United States and around the world. Achieving these goals, however, requires strong and sustained funding for a wide range of research disciplines—from basic science to clinical science to research on implementation and cancer care delivery. The NCI’s Annual Plan and Budget Proposal describes current opportunities to build on and advance cancer research. You can also learn more about our priority initiatives.