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An Annual Plan that Celebrates the National Cancer Act

, by Dr. L. Michelle Bennett

L. Michelle Bennett, Ph.D.

Director, NCI Center for Research Strategy

Dr. L. Michelle Bennett, director of NCI’s Center for Research Strategy, provides an overview of the NCI Annual Plan & Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. This blog post highlights NCI’s proposal to increase paylines and describes four areas of scientific opportunity where increased funding will spur advances.

This year, we honor the 50th anniversary of the National Cancer Act of 1971. The National Cancer Act launched priorities that now serve as the foundation of the National Cancer Program, such as the National Clinical Trials Network and the Cancer Centers Program. 

The act also directed NCI to prepare and deliver to the President and Congress NCI’s best professional judgment of the optimal funding needed for continued progress against cancer. NCI is commemorating the National Cancer Act and fulfilling the act’s mandate by releasing the Annual Plan and Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. The annual plan outlines the opportunities that, if funded, will serve the National Cancer Act’s noble purpose and advance President Biden’s priority to end cancer as we know it.

The NCI annual plan includes a professional judgment budget (PJB) that is aspirational and highlights what NCI could achieve with a proposed $7.766 billion budget. At NCI, we see unprecedented opportunities to fund innovative research across the cancer research continuum, from basic science to population studies, to improve the R01 grant payline and to fund science and research workforce priorities that will accelerate progress and serve the needs of all people with cancer and those at risk of cancer. 

NCI is committed to investigator-initiated research and has prioritized raising the R01 payline to fund more highly meritorious research. The funding level in the FY 2023 PJB will allow NCI to increase the R01 payline to the 13th percentile, which advances the NCI goal of reaching the 15th percentile by FY 2025 (“15-by-25”). Robust and sustained resources are essential to achieve the 15-by-25 goal.

This year, the plan again highlights areas of scientific opportunity where increased funding will spur advances. Increasing our understanding of tumor dynamics is one example. This opportunity builds on the Cancer MoonshotSM–funded Human Tumor Atlas Network initiative and other NCI-supported work in this field of research. 

Another scientific opportunity is advancing precision prevention by predicting individual risk and developing targeted interventions. A third is improving computer-based drug design using computational methods to bring safer, more effective treatments to patients faster. Finally, the plan emphasizes how we can improve cancer clinical trials by expanding telemedicine practices, increasing access for underserved communities, and embracing new methods of collecting data. These four areas of opportunity are interconnected, and will benefit from strong collaboration across the cancer research community and the sustained investment necessary to make progress against cancer.

NCI shares the President’s vision of ending cancer as we know it, a priority that serves the needs of all regardless of race, ethnicity, income, or other factors. At NCI, health equity is woven throughout our mission. Reducing cancer disparities has been a long-standing priority for NCI and is an enduring focus of our research. For example, Dr. Clayton Yates, a researcher we highlight in the annual plan, has developed cell lines to study prostate cancer in African-American men. Dr. Yates typifies NCI-supported researchers who are making great strides to reduce cancer disparities.

These are a few highlights of the FY 2023 Annual Plan and Budget Proposal. I encourage you to read the plan, which not only supports the four areas of opportunity, but also the entirety of NCI’s comprehensive research portfolio. Please share the plan with colleagues, friends, and others who may find it useful. We’ve worked diligently during the past 5 decades against cancer, and #NothingWillStopUs in our quest to help people with cancer live longer, healthier lives. 

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